Oct. 11, 2007
Eric Peterson and the men's and women's UCLA cross country teams will travel to the midwest on Saturday for the Pre-National Invitational in Terre Haute, IN. The meet brings together the top teams and runners in the country in a prequel to the NCAA Championships in November.
The men's team, currently ranked 19th in the country, has won three of the four meets they have been entered in this season. After a strong fifth-place showing at the Bill Dellinger Invite in late September, the Bruins are primed and ready for a fine finish in Indiana.
"We've looked at the field and it's going to be a very competitive race," said head coach Eric Peterson. "We are excited to run against teams that we have already faced in Wisconsin, Alabama, Portland and Washingotn. We are also looking to strengthen our winning record against teams from outside of the region that may end up in automatic qualifying spots in their regioanl races, such as Louisville and Florida State. This is the type of race where we need to be at our best.
"We are looking for continued leadership out of Austin, but also from Laef who is a big x-factor for this team. I can't wait until we see these results from our team where he goes off because he has talent and ability. His fitness along with his confidence are a real asset to this team. He makes a huge difference for our team when he runs well.
The consistency of Kyle and Drew Shackleton is also key to our team. We are going to be aggressive, go out and compete as hard as we can, and hopefully in the end, help us continue to climb in the national ranks."
Fourteen top-30 ranked teams are slated to compete in the 8k Blue Race, including UCLA. The No. 2 team in the country, Wisconsin, is the highest-ranked team in the race, while Pac-10 teams Arizona, California and Washington will also be there on Saturday with the race beginning at 8:00 am (PST). Three men will also compete in the open race during the meet.
Teams competing with UCLA in the Blue Race
Air Force, Alabama (#8), Arizona, BYU, California, Cincinnati, Clemson, Columbia, Dartmouth, Dayton, Duquesne, Florida State (#25), Georgia, Indiana, Iona (#4), Iowa, Iowa State (#23), IUPUI, Kent State, Louisville (#17), Miami/Ohio, Michigan State, Mississippi, Montana State, Morehead State, Northern Arizona (#15), Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio State, Oklahoma State (#6), Portland (#13), Tennessee, Tulsa, Villanova (#22), Virginia (#29), Washington (#27), Wisconsin (#2), and Wyoming.
The women's team will compete in the 6k White Race along with 37 other teams including 10 top-30 ranked teams. This race will begin at 9:55 am (PST)
Teams competing with UCLA in the White Race
State, Baylor, Belmont, BYU (#15), Colorado (#2), Duquesne, Florida (#20), Georgia (#28), Georgia Tech, Illinois (#10), Iowa (#23), Iowa State, Kansas, Kent State, Liberty, Louisville, Michigan (#13), Morehead State, Oakland, Ohio U., Portland, Princeton (#8), Providence (#18), Purdue, Stony Brook, UAB, UCLA, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNLV, William & Mary, Western Kentucky, Washington (#12), Weber State, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wyoming, Yale.
"We're coming off of the best two weeks of practice that we've had all season," added Peterson. "The results at the Bill Dellinger Invite were an eye-opening experience and we feel that we are training at a higher level. These six athletes have done a great job over the last two weeks preparing for this event.
"The goal for us is to continue our improvement. It's difficult to point at a finishing spot in this type of race, because we don't know where we stand until we have these athletes compete at a level we know they are capable of. If we get that on Saturday, then we will know where we stand in the conference and region. It's a great challenge for us and we are looking forward to it."