Experienced Bulldog Harriers Face Challenging Schedule This Fall
SPOKANE, Wash. - As Gonzaga University's men's and women's cross country teams continue to evolve and become better, so does the schedule become more challenging.
Such is the case in 2012.
The highlight of the 2012 cross country schedule announced Thursday by fifth-year head coach Pat Tyson is the Bill Dellinger Invitational, hosted by the University of Oregon and held at the Springfield, Ore., Golf Course located outside of Eugene.
"We're not sure who will be there other than based on last year the Wisconsin men and women were there and the Badgers (men) ended up winning the NCAA Championship. There are always some high-end teams that love to go to Eugene and run at the Springfield Golf Course to kind of honor one of the legends of the sport in my old coach Bill Dellinger," said Tyson, an Oregon alum. "This is a meet we would have liked to have run in earlier, but we didn't feel we were quite ready. We believe our men and women are evolving, so let's go to Eugene and be a part of Bill Dellinger's big meet."
The Bulldogs have a stable of depth returning on the men's and women's side. Seniors Lindsey Drake and Kirsten Lightfoot; juniors Emily Thomas, Krista Beyer, Emily Albrecht and Catherine Theobald, and sophomores Maggie Jones and Elizabeth Ryan lead the veteran contingent on the women's side. The men return senior Chris Boyle who redshirted last season; fellow seniors Tate Kelly and Patrick Richie; juniors Nate Gesell, Willie Milam and Robert Walgren, and sophomore Nick Roche as West Coast Conference Championship Meet veterans.
Tyson knows the Bulldogs will see a different Oregon squad than they saw last season in a dual meet against the Ducks in Sun River, Ore., when the Bulldog men pulled off the victory.
"Obviously, Oregon will have a different lineup that they did last year when we ran against them in Sun River," Tyson noted.
The season kicks off with Washington State University, the University of Idaho, Eastern Washington University, Whitworth University and the Bulldogs getting together Sept. 1 at Spokane's Mead High.
"We open up with a really fun meet. It's a short race so it's a sprint. It's hard to determine in a 4K for women and a 6K for men what that really tells you about kids running an 8K and a 10K," Tyson said. "WSU's men were a NCAA qualifying team last year and they are one of the better teams in the Pac-12. WSU's women are a Pac-12 team and Idaho's women are amazing. There will be some tough competition for both the men and women."
Gonzaga then faces back-to-back-to-back meets with the WCC Preview Sept. 14 at Pier Park in Portland, Ore., the Erik Anderson Invitational Sept. 22 at Plantes Ferry in the Spokane Valley and Sept. 29 for the Bill Dellinger Invitational.
Tyson said that stretch will necessitate holding some runners out of the Erik Anderson meet.
"You don't want to race kids every week. The dream is every-other-week. With the West Coast Preview Meet one weekend and the following weekend is the Erik Anderson it's in our best interest to leave out some top guns in the Erik Anderson and save them for the Dellinger. There's so much depth on the men's and women's team we're definitely going to have to leave some bodies out and still run respectably. We want to do some good things at home. I'm not sure how many we'll leave out, but we're definitely going to leave some bodies out," he explained.
Loyola Marymount University, Santa Clara University and Saint Mary's College are expected to be among the WCC teams joining Gonzaga and host University of Portland in the WCC Preview Meet.
"During our coaches meeting it seemed like there was big-time interest. We think it's an advantage to go and tour the course. I think it will be a good rough draft. I hope BYU will be there," Tyson said of the WCC teams competing on the course that will host the WCC Championship.
The Inland Northwest Classic will be hosted by Lewis-Clark State College Oct. 13 and be held at Hells Gate State Park near Lewiston, Idaho. The West Coast Conference Championships are Oct. 27 at Pier Park in Portland and the West Regional will be held at Jefferson Park in Seattle Nov. 9. For the first time in several years the NCAA Championship will be held on a Saturday this year. The NCAA Championship will be Nov. 17 at Tom Sawyer Park in Louisville, Ky.