Eastern Prepares for Prestigious Notre Dame Invitational
EWU will send its top six runners on the men’s and women’s sides to South Bend
The Eastern Washington University men’s and women’s cross country teams will be facing off against some of the top teams in the nation Friday (Oct. 4) at the 57th Annual Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind.
“I’m really thankful to our administrators for allowing us to go to a meet like this,” said head coach Chris Zeller. “This type of meet gives you the chance to earn points in order to have a chance for an at-large bid to NCAA Nationals and that’s something that’s certainly on our radar this year and long term.”
The prestigious meet will be held at the Notre Dame Golf Course and features a gold and blue section. The blue section is strictly for Division I teams, while the gold section has a mix of Division I, II, III and NAIA schools.
Zeller will be taking along Eastern’s top six athletes on both the men’s and women’s sides to the meet. Competing for the men in the blue section will be Stephen Bottoms, Vince Hamilton, Alex Kimsey, Isaac Kitzan, Steven Kutsch and Chris Schroll. The blue section will be a highly competitive field as 26 of the 28 teams in the section are currently in the top 15 of their respective regions in the USTFCCCA’s latest Division I rankings. Some schools competing in that division will be Colorado State, Columbia, Florida State, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio State, Princeton, Tulsa and Virginia.
“In order to get points you have to race schools who are going to be finishing in the top four in their respective regions,” said Zeller. “As a result you get these big meets where tons of schools from across the country go to in order to get a chance to face each other. It’s a great opportunity for us to see those teams. It becomes a really competitive meet which is great for us and I feel like we can rise to the level of expectation and challenges before them.”
Catie Arrigoni, Mayra Chavez, Paula Gil-Echevarria, Katie Mahoney, Berenice Penaloza and Sarah Reiter will field the women’s team in the gold section. There will be six teams in the gold section that are currently ranked in the top 15 in their region in the USTFCCCA’s Division I rankings including Belmont, Butler, Loyola, Pittsburgh, Southern Illinois and UT-Arlington.
“We’ve had a few kids who were kind of banged up the last couple weeks, but they seem to be getting healthy right now,” said Zeller. “They’ve been doing some cross-training and should be good to go, which will be huge going into a big meet like this.”
The Notre Dame Invite will be the second to last competition for Eastern prior to the Big Sky Championships on Nov. 2 in Bozeman, Mont.
The women’s gold section will begin Friday at 11 a.m. (2 ET). The men’s blue section will be contested at 2 p.m. (5 ET).
“Certainly this is a big test for us,” said Zeller, “In essence it will have a Big Sky feel to it, so it will give everyone a chance to be in that competitive of an environment.”