Eastern men will strive to defend meet title without No. 1 King
The Eastern Washington University Cross Country teams will compete on home turf Saturday (Oct. 16) as they host the Inland Northwest Cross Country Challenge in Cheney, Wash.
“We’re really excited to host this meet this year because there are a lot of great teams coming to participate,” said cross country head coach Chris Zeller. “I’d like to see our kids compete well; I’d like to see them run smart, and test themselves a little bit. Our home course is decently challenging so it will be a great test before the conference championships.”
The men will defend their meet title after placing first overall at last season’s competition, where they defeated Gonzaga (25-31), Idaho (22-33) and Washington State (24-32). They will do so without the help of their No. 1 runner, Kyle King, who will travel to Terre Haute, Ind., to compete in the ISU Pre-Nationals Invitational, hosted by Indiana State University.
“We have kept our work load high through this point and starting to taper for conference. It’s hard to say how they will respond to that at this point, but I think they’ll do all right,” said Zeller of the men’s team. “Most of our guys are healthy. We have a really tiny men’s team but they’ve been improving steadily throughout the entire year, and I think they’ll continue to do so.”
The women placed third overall last year behind Gonzaga (15-50) and Idaho (15-43).
Senior Amy Kolin will look to help improve the women’s last finish, as the transfer from Ypsilanti, Mich., is coming off of an illness from last week, and is looking strong, Zeller said.
“I think Amy will do great this weekend,” said Zeller. “I think she’ll respond very well and be competitive with some of the best of the best who will be at this meet. She’ll have an opportunity to set herself up well before the conference championships.”
For the rest of the women’s team, Zeller said this meet is all about gaining experience.
“We have such a young women’s team. Three of our top five are freshmen,” said Zeller. “This meet will give them a chance to build some more experience and gain a higher racing IQ.”
The women’s race will begin at 10 a.m., followed by the men’s competition at 10:45 a.m.
The challenge will be the last meet before the Eagles host the 2010 Big Sky Conference Cross Country Championships Saturday, Oct. 30 at the Fairways Golf Course in Cheney, Wash.