September 25, 2007

Eagles Head to St. Paul, Minn.

Sept. 25, 2007

The Eastern Washington University men's and women's cross country teams will compete at the 22nd Annual Roy Griak Invitational Saturday (Sept. 29) in St. Paul, Minn. The men will be running in the 8,000-meter race at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time while the women will compete in the 6,000-meter run at 10:55 a.m.

About 25 NCAA Division I teams will compete in the Gold Division in one of the largest cross country meets in the nation. Last year, there were 301 male finishers and 288 women's placers. Eastern was 27th out of 34 men's teams and the women were 26th out of 28 teams.

The Eagles competed last weekend at the 2007 Sundodger Invitational (Sept. 15) in Seattle, Wash. The men's team had a third place finish while the women finished sixth.

"The Sundodger served as a perfect segue for the Roy Griak Invite," said head coach Chris Zeller. "Instead of two teams that made it to nationals last year, there will be about 10. The Griak Invite will be a great test for our athletes and a wonderful opportunity for our top runners to see where they stack up against some of the nation's best. These are the athletes they will be competing against if they qualify for nationals. Now, if they end up at nationals, they can go in with some confidence knowing they've already run against many of the runners in the field.

"Both the men's and women's teams ran unbelievable at Sundodger," added Zeller.

The men were led in Seattle by junior Paul Limpf, who finished second with a time of 23:46 that was the best time ever at this event for the EWU men. Limpf was only 10 seconds behind leader Jon Harding of Washington (23:36).

"Paul ran only three seconds off the course record set by Jonathon Riley (former Stanford runner and Olympian)," said Zeller of Limpf, who placed 45th in last year's Roy Griak Invitational.

In the women's 6,000-meter race, junior Mattie Bridgmon had a fifth place finish with a time of 21:04. Senior Samantha Modderman (22:03) finished 20th.

"Mattie was just one place behind a Division II national champ on the track and two places behind the No. 1 recruit in the nation last year," said Zeller.

"We are also transitioning in our training right now from base work to some light anaerobic work. Hopefully, we'll keep getting faster as the season progresses. The kids have been working really hard all summer and their hard work is starting to pay off."

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