Cross CountrySports

Oregon cross country at full strength for Friday's Wisconsin adidas Invitational

The Oregon cross country teams will compete in their first full-fledged competition this season when they travel to the Midwest to compete in Friday’s Wisconsin adidas Invitational. Oregon will be up against 39 men’s teams and 41 women’s teams at the new Thomas Zimmer Championship Course in Madison, [email protected]@[email protected]@

Both races feature the majority of premier competition the NCAA has to offer. The men will face 20 of the country’s top-30 teams, while the women will take on 19 ranked squads. The men’s 8,000-meter race features No. 2 Wisconsin, which handily beat No. 10 Oregon two weeks ago at the Bill Dellinger Invitational in the Ducks’ only home meet of the season. Also competing on the men’s side are No. 4 Stanford, No. 6 Brigham Young, No. 7 Indiana, No. 9 North Carolina State, No. 13 Northern Arizona, No. 14 Princeton, No. 16 Georgetown, No. 17 Minnesota, No. 19 Villanova, No. 21 Syracuse, No. 22 UCLA, No. 23 Arizona State, No. 24 Providence and No. 25 New [email protected]@[email protected]@

The women of Oregon (currently No. 12 in the country) will face top-ranked Villanova, the defending NCAA champions. Also competing in the 6,000-meter race are No. 2 Providence, No. 6 Stanford, No. 7 New Mexico, No. 8 Syracuse, No. 9 Iowa State, No. 10 California, No. 13 North Carolina, No. 14 Arizona, No. 15 Michigan State, No. 21 Minnesota, No. 22 Florida, No. 23 Iowa, No. 24 Washington and No. 25 Notre [email protected]@[email protected]@

Although Oregon lost to Wisconsin by a wide margin at the Dellinger, the team competed without a handful of its best runners in an effort to keep them fresh for more important events later this season, including the track and field season and Olympic trials. This weekend is an opportunity for the team to ease a number of those top performers into competition for the first time in 2011.

For the men, Friday will be a potential season debut for nine-time All-American Luke Puskedra, who finished third in the nation in cross country in 2010. True freshmen Lukas Verzbicas and Jeramy Elkaim will be looking to make their first appearances in an Oregon uniform. While Puskedra is the undisputed leader for the men, many Duck fans will have their eyes on Verzbicas, who is arguably the most sought-after prep runner ever recruited to join Oregon’s historic track and field program.

For the women, Friday will likely mark the season debut for 2010 Pac-10 cross country champion and 10-time All-American Jordan Hasay. Hasay has Olympic aspirations and was held out of Oregon’s two previous meets this season but will almost certainly put herself on the line in Oregon’s most important regular-season cross country meet. Junior Anne Kesselring, a six-time All-American, will also likely make her first official appearance in 2011.

While the Oregon men are coming off a second-place finish in their last contest, the women are looking to continue momentum from a dominant performance at the Dellinger earlier this month. At that meet, the Ducks’ top finisher was redshirt sophomore Sarah Penney, who finished in third place with a time of 16:46.97. Only one Oregon woman cracked the top three at that meet, but the team made a concerted effort to run in a pack and succeeded in capturing four of the top six spots, with Becca Friday, Lanie Thompson and Claire Michel finishing within five seconds of Penney to cap a dominant effort for the women of [email protected]@[email protected]@

The women’s 6,000-meter race will kick off at 11 a.m. on Friday, while the men’s race will take place at 11:40 [email protected]@[email protected]@

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