Cross CountrySports

Ducks fly to Indiana for Pre-Nationals

The No. 7 Oregon men and the No. 4 Oregon women will flex their competitive muscles in two races this weekend.

The teams will split and compete at Friday’s Mike Hodges Invitational at Clackamas Community College and Saturday’s Pre-Nationals Invitational, held at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind.

Saturday’s event will be held on the course used for the NCAA Cross Country Championships on Nov. 23, and the Ducks will be sending their top men’s and women’s runners to compete and familiarize themselves with the course. Of the 11 men expected to travel to Indiana, five are All-Americans — Luke Puskedra, Kenny Klotz, Diego Mercado, Danny Mercado and A.J. Acosta — with significant experience on the course. The Duck women, however, will find the trip very educational. True freshmen Jordan Hasay and Taylor Wallace, two of the Ducks’ top seven finishers at the Bill Dellinger Invitational on Oct. 2, will see the course for the first time, and sophomores Claire Michel and Bronwyn Crossman will make the trip as well.

35 teams are entered in the 8,000 meter men’s Blue Race at the Pre-Nationals, along with 37 women’s teams in the 6,000 meter women’s Blue Race. The men’s race features No. 2 Northern Arizona and No. 3 Alabama, with six other teams (excluding the Ducks) ranked among the nation’s top 30. The Oregon women are the highest-ranked among eight top-30 teams in the Blue Race; top-ranked Washington is competing in the Pre-Nationals White Race.

At the Mike Hodges Invitational, Oregon runners Anne Kesselring and Brooke Giuffre will compete in the women’s 5,000 meter race. Kesselring, a freshman from Nürnberg, Germany, will be making her collegiate debut. The 4-mile men’s race will feature juniors David Bondi, Kevin McNally and Ken Scoggin in their season debuts, though McNally competed at the Dellinger unattached.

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