Bulldog Harriers To Get Opportunity To Prove Themselves
SPOKANE, Wash. - Every athlete asks for an opportunity, and this weekend Gonzaga University's cross country coaches will give a lot of athletes that chance.
Head coach Pat Tyson and assistant coach Patty Ley aren't going to put the upper echelon of runners on the course Saturday at the Erik Anderson Invitational at Plantes Ferry in the Spokane Valley. The women's 6K will be at 10:45 a.m. with the men's 8K at 11:30 a.m.
With the prestigious Dellinger Invitational the following weekend at the University of Oregon, they want their runners rested for an optimal performance.
But that's not to say there's nothing at stake Saturday for those that do run.
"We're taking 12 to the Dellinger. That will be the top invitational meet maybe in Gonzaga history with Wisconsin and Oklahoma There," Tyson said. "I felt good about 10 runners I could solidly say would go to Dellinger. But I have room for two more and I can't think of a better way to decide those two than the Erik Anderson."
Tyson said there are three or four athletes he expects to challenge for those two spots.
"Andrew Walker is one of our guys. You're not supposed to have favorites, but I'm rooting for him. Nate Gesell has been running without a Gonzaga jersey (unattached) and will run without the jersey this week. He told me if he runs a good race at Erik Anderson he would like to put the jersey on for Dellinger and I told him that was fine," Tyson said. "Ned Fischer would like to sniff it out. I'm not sure Andy Phillips will run this week because of a little bit of a sore foot. Based on what he did at Mead on a short course he has what it takes if he's healthy to chase one of those two spots. It's going to be a very limited group of guys. It's going to be a lot of redshirts running unattached but there will be a good posse there."
Tyson said if one of the redshirts pops a good time he "would have to have that conversation" if someone wanted to forego his redshirt season.
The women's situation is much the same, although Ley is holding the top 12 women out of Saturday's race.
"I told the women I have these 12 I've pulled to get them prepared, but it's fine to go out and make my life miserable. If somebody goes out and wows me I'll have to take a hard look at what we've got," she said.
Ley said freshmen Ali Nichols and Zoe Urcadez, along with redshirt freshman Alaina Kowitz will be runners to watch Saturday. Kowitz was at Gonzaga last year but did not turn out for cross country, so she is new to the program. Redshirt freshman Megan Batty "will be opening up. She's still a little rusty after having her tonsils removed right before school started," Ley said. "This week is kind of an opener to give those kids a chance to step up."
Ley said if someone posted a good time Saturday she would have to take a look at where they stand for next week.
"Potentially it could mean somebody running three races in three weeks, but they are young and they bounce back," Ley noted.