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Courtesy: Torrey Vail

Bulldog Runners Have Focus At Erik Anderson Invitational

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics
          Release: 09/22/2012
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            SPOKANE, Wash. - With the focus on next week's Bill Dellinger Invitational at the University of Oregon, Saturday's Erik Anderson Invitational took on a different focus for most of the Gonzaga University participants.

            The top 12 women's runners and the top 10 men's runners were held out of the meet to avoid having to run three straight weekends at the start of the season with the conclusion of the Dellinger meet next weekend.

            The men had the final two berths for next weekend meet at stake, and Nate Gesell, running as a redshirt thus far this season, and senior veteran Andrew Walker would seem to be in line for those berth.

            "I think the guys ran pretty well," assistant coach Patty Ley said, filling in for head coach Pat Tyson who is at Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at the University of Oregon this weekend. "Watching Nate a little bit he's had a little tweak with his knee. It will be interesting when he and Tyson sit down and talk about what might be next for him. He did run well."

            Gesell had indicted to Tyson heading into Saturday he would consider giving up his redshirt year and running in the Dellinger if he posted a solid time. He ran a 25:37.36 to finish second over for the 8K course at Plantes Ferry.

            "Walker ran better today. I think sometimes you lose track of where you are suppose to be or who you are suppose to be when you start sliding back in the pack a little bit. So being toward the front makes a huge difference in how you race sometimes and brings back a lot of confidence. The guys who ran today should draw a lot of confidence from the way they raced today," Ley said.

            If Gesell chooses to hold onto his redshirt season, Andy Phillips might be up for the final spot for next week. He finished 10th overall at 26:18.85 after being doubtful earlier in the week if he would even run because of a foot injury.

            Erik Fagan (26:20.79) and Ben Lance (26:22.87) were 12th and 13th overall for the Bulldogs.

            On the women's side, Ley had the kiddie corps cross the finish line in a pack in the top 10.

            "The top five was four three freshmen, a sophomore and a redshirt sophomore," Ley noted. first-year runners and a second-year runner," Ley noted. "We had some young kids who took responsibility for scoring for the team. They were really tight and close. The idea is to keep them tight like that and then move them up the pack. Start a little further back in the pack and then keep moving up, keep moving up, keep moving up.  It's a good base for the future for the entire team," Ley beamed.

            Freshman Addi Johnson finished fourth overall in 19:14.02 for the 5K and she was followed by sophomore Alison Fraher (19:17.94) and freshman Alaina Kowitz in 19:25.32 in fifth and sixth, respectively. Another pack of freshman Allie Nichols (19:32.70), redshirt sophomore Jordan McCann (19:32.80 and freshman Zoe Urcadez (19:37.33) in eighth through 10th.

            But nobody stepped up enough to earn a spot for next week in Oregon, according to Ley.

            "We'll probably stick with the crew we've got," Ley said.

            But she said a couple of her freshmen were frustrated they didn't perform better.

            "Talking to Zoe and Allie, they are pretty tired and they are frustrated," Ley said. "Both said they ran well as they ever ran in high school, but they wanted more than that. I love that. You have to love they are frustrated with what they had less than a year ago and want more."

            Heading into the biggest regular-season meet Saturday at Oregon which might be the biggest meet in Gonzaga's history, Ley said the goal is simple.

            "Get them refreshed and pray they don't get sick, and, knock on wood, keep them from getting injured. It's that time of year on every college campus where about three weeks in (to the semester) here we go, let's share every virus known to mankind," Ley laughed. "This was a very heavy week for them. We'll pull it back a little bit this week. They may feel a little on the flat side at Dellinger but their legs will be underneath them and feeling pretty good. It will be a great opportunity for them. I think they can kind of relax and go for it."

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