September 27, 2011

Eastern Nears Full Strength as Teams Prepare for Montana Invite

Cross country teams will get their first look at other Big Sky schools

The Eastern Washington University men’s and women’s cross country teams will get their first chance at competing with other Big Sky Schools this Friday (Sept. 30) when they head to Missoula, Mont., for the Montana Invitational.

The Big Sky schools competing are Montana and Montana State. The men will be running 8,000 meters, while the women run 5,000.

“I know our squads can be competitive with both Montana schools,” said head coach Chris Zeller. “So I’m excited to see where we stack up with them at this point in the season.”

The Montana Invite marks the first time all season the women’s team will be running at full strength. Eastern’s top runner, senior Tonya Turner, will run her second race as an Eagle after an impressive seventh overall finish at the Sundodger Invitational on Sept. 17. Freshman Katie Mahoney and sophomore Kimberly Macias will also be back in action.

“I’m excited to finally be able to put all the pieces together,” said Zeller. “I’m interested to see how well Katie does with Tonya in her sights. It’s important for Katie to keep contact with Tonya all season and not let her get too far in front of her.”

The Montana and Montana State women are without their top runners from last year. The Grizzlies lost their top three from last season to graduation, while the Bobcats are redshirting their top runner.

On the men’s side, Eastern’s top three – Beau Ebding, Graham Vaux and Simon Sorenson – have been improving all season, according to Zeller. However, EWU’s No. 4 runner, Drake DaPonte, is questionable with an injury.

Zeller doesn’t want to risk further complications, and would rather save DaPonte for the Big Sky Cross Country Championships on Oct. 19 in Pocatello, Idaho. Nathan Fall and Quin Olivas will be the other runners competing for Eastern in Missoula.

 “I’m excited about our front three,” said Zeller. “They’ll stack up very well. But our weakest link is our depth and lack of numbers. So our No. 4 and No. 5 runners are question marks.”

“But more than anything, I’m excited to see these teams compete, knowing they’re going against some Big Sky schools.”

 
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