Cross Country Championships Underway

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Washington's Greg Metcalf
Oregon State's Kelly Sullivan
Colorado's Richard Medina
Oregon's Vin Lananna
Utah's Amanda Mergaert

2011 Pac-12 Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships
Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011
Wigwam Resort, Litchfield Park, Ariz.
Hosted by the Arizona State University


RACE SCHEDULE

7:30 a.m. - Course open
8:00 a.m. - Live blog begins
8:45 a.m. - Men called to start
8:55 a.m. - Men final instructions
9:00 a.m. - Start of Men's 8,000-meter race
9:45 a.m. - Women called to start
9:55 a.m. - Women final instructions
10:00 a.m. - Start of Women's 6,000-meter race
11:00 a.m. - Awards Ceremony

42nd-Annual Men's Race
The men's field for the 42nd-Annual Pac-12 Men's Cross Country Championships is stacked with two-thirds of the nine teams earning a top-25 national ranking in the latest USTFCCCA Coaches poll. STANFORD and COLORADO have been among the top 10 all season, while OREGON, WASHINGTON STATE, ARIZONA STATE and UCLA have also landed themselves in the rankings.

The STANFORD Cardinal is looking to stand atop the podium for the third-consecutive year after winning the 2010 title in grand fashion. The Cardinal's top-three finishers crossed the finished line in first, second and third, separated by just .13 seconds to give the team a commanding lead and the team crown. Anchored by returnees senior Chris Derrick and redshirt senior Jake Reilly, the Cardinal look poised to claim another title. Derrick and Reilly were two of the Stanford trio to cross the finish like toe-to-toe in the 2010 championship.

Challenging for the crown will be newcomer COLORADO. The Buffs, while new to the Pac-12, have been strong contenders in the Big 12, placing second at last year's championship but claiming 12-consecutive Big 12 crowns from 1997-2007. OREGON spent a lot of time this year in the top 10 in the nation and is just three years removed from winning back-to-back-to-back Conference titles. The Ducks will look to Luke Puskedra to lead the team. He was the highest finisher in the field last year not from Stanford.

Host ARIZONA STATE, UCLA and WASHINGTON STATE are also ranked in the top 30 heading into the championships. Impressive results have the Sun Devils and UCLA strengthening the field. The Cougars have also been running strong as the regular season winds down, appearing in the USTFCCCA poll for the first time since 2009.

One of the top contenders for the individual crown is ARIZONA freshman Lawi Lalang. A newcomer to the sport of cross country, he set a course record at the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational. With his addition to the roster, the Wildcats look improve on last year's last-place finish. Under the direction of 30th-year head coach Tony Sandoval, CALIFORNIA looks to senior Maxime Chevee and junior Colin Jarvis to remain a top-three contender after placing third in the team championship last year. Last year's disappointment at missing out on an NCAA bid that was within reach, WASHINGTON will be driven to improve, led by senior Max O'Donoghue-McDonald.

26th-Annual Women's Race
Last season's women's race could not have been any closer, and the additions of COLORADO and UTAH will add to the drama to the 26th-Annual Pac-12 Women's Cross Country Championships. But incumbent STANFORD, as well as OREGON, WASHINGTON and ARIZONA, who all finished in the top three, will not back down easily to the newcomers. Half the women's field has been ranked in the top-25 at some point during in the season in the USTFCCCA Coaches poll.

STANFORD returns All-Americans Kathy Kroeger and Stephanie Marcy, as the Cardinal women also go for a third-straight title. OREGON's Jordan Hasay, the 2010 Conference individual champion, leads another strong Ducks squad which looks to be having another strong season.

Seems as if the Huskies saved the best for last. Returning the 2010 Newcomer of the Year Katie Flood, UW defeated 18 ranked teams at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational and jumped to No. 2 in the standings. ARIZONA broke out in 2010 and had one of its most successful seasons in recent memory. The Wildcats are much improved in 2011 and look to challenge again.

Led by senior All-American Deborah Maier, CALIFORNIA beat seven ranked teams to tie for first at the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational. The Golden Bears went from being unranked to 10th in the nation after the big win.

COLORADO will not make it easy for the rest of the field. Coming off a season where CU placed sixth at the national championships, it was the highest showing for any team in the Pac-12. The Buffs return their highest finisher at nationals last season in Laura Tremblay.

Host ARIZONA STATE is a young squad this year, with half the members being true freshman. Senior Lindsay Prescott is an all-conference performer and looks to have another big meet. OREGON STATE lost two key members to graduation but returns four seniors. UCLA has a plethora of sophomores, seven of which ran in last year's conference championship. The young Bruins can lean on that experience from last year's conference meet.

USC has been sidetracked by injuries and will rely heavily on newcomers, as well as junior Shelby Buckley. Running in its first-ever Pac-12 meet, UTAH will be led by a trio of core runners, including junior Amanda Mergaert, who was a NCAA qualifier last year and was granted a medical redshirt waiver to compete in her final season.

Sophomore Ruby Roberts had a successful freshman campaign for WASHINGTON STATE and was the highest Cougar finisher at the 2010 conference meet. She looks to carry that success into the 2011 competition.

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