Eagles Set for Big Sky Championships in Bozeman

Both Eastern teams looking to improve on last year’s finish at conference

The Eastern Washington University men’s and women’s cross country teams will be making their way over to Bozeman, Mont., for the second time this season as they prepare to compete at the Big Sky Championships on Nov. 2. The meet, which is hosted by Montana State, will be held at Bridger Creek Golf Course.

“This is a really exciting week we look forward to each year,” said head coach Chris Zeller, “It will be a real opportunity to see who can step up and push through.”

The Eagles are familiar with the course in Bozeman, having competed on it just over a month ago at the MSU Invitational on Sept. 21 when the EWU men took second out of five Big Sky schools.

In a preseason poll of the Big Sky Cross Country coaches, the Eastern men’s team was voted to finish eighth and the women were picked to place 10th. The men received 44 points in voting while the women received 27. The Northern Arizona men and the Weber State women have been chosen as the favorites to defend their Big Sky titles, with the Lumberjack men receiving all 11 first-place-votes and the Wildcat women getting nine of the 11.

“Before the season started we talked about what some of our goals were as a team,” said Zeller, “To have both the men and women finish in the top five would be really solid knowing how young we are.”

On the men’s side, Zeller plans to send freshman Stephen Bottoms, sophomore Vince Hamilton, freshman Alex Kimsey, freshman Isaac Kitzan, senior Steven Kutsch, junior Quin Olivas, junior Chris Schroll and senior Simon Sorensen.

“We have a really solid group of young and determined guys,” said Zeller. “We’re not real deep right now as there are a couple injuries and question marks, but I’m hopeful that we can field our best squad.”

Hamilton and Schroll have split the duties of being Eastern’s frontrunner this season, as each of the transfers has been the top finisher for EWU on two occasions.

Zeller expects to send a group consisting mostly of sophomores and freshmen on the women’s side including junior Catie Arrigoni, sophomore Mayra Chavez, freshman Keeley Davidson, freshman Paula Gil-Echevarria, freshman Katie Lynch, sophomore Katie Mahoney, sophomore Berenice Penaloza and sophomore Sarah Reiter.

“The women are fired up,” said Zeller, “They really came together at the right time. They’re really close and will feed off each other.”

Mahoney has led the Eagles at two different meets with top-three overall finishes at the Clash of the Inland Northwest (third) and the Inland Empire Championships (second). Reiter, a transfer from Montana State, was the top finisher at two meets as well and was close behind Mahoney at the Inland Empire Championships, taking third.

At last year’s inaugural 11-team Big Sky Cross Country Championships in Flagstaff, Ariz., the men’s team finished ninth and the women took 11th.

“We’re ready for anything,” said Zeller. “Gunning towards the top five won’t be an easy task, but at this point I think that’s something that’s certainly doable if we can run well.” 

The women's 5,000-meter race will begin at 9:00 a.m. (10 a.m. MT) and the men's 8,000 will begin at 10:00 a.m. (11 a.m. MT).

“Our team is really poised and they’re excited to see what they can do this year and build off of it looking ahead,” said Zeller.

2013 Big Sky Cross Country Preseason Coaches' Poll

Men's Results

Place

School

Points

1.

Northern Arizona

121 (11)

2.

Southern Utah

100

3.

Weber State

99

4.

Montana State

97

5.

Sacramento State

65

6.

Montana

62

7.

Idaho State

56

8.

Eastern Washington

44

9.

North Dakota

40

10.

Northern Colorado

22

11.

Portland State

20

 

Women's Results

Place

School

Points

1.

Weber State

118 (9)

2.

Northern Arizona

108 (1)

3.

Southern Utah

97 (1)

4.

Montana State

84

5.

Idaho State

64

 

Sacramento State

64

7.

Northern Colorado

60

8.

North Dakota

42

9.

Montana 

35

10.

Eastern Washington

27

 

Portland State

27

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