Cross country to battle top squads in Wisconsin Invitational

| 10/16/14 1:27pm

The men’s and women’s cross country teams will look to continue their strong seasons and vie for a potential national championship berth Friday at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational in Madison. Hosted by the University of Wisconsin, this invitational will assemble the strongest teams in the entire country in what could be considered a preview for the November national championships.

Seven Big Green harriers on each team will compete against some of the best cross country programs in the country. The 38-team men’s field includes nationally-ranked programs such as No. 3 Northern Arizona University, No. 5 University of Portland, No. 6 Syracuse University, No. 7 Stanford University and No. 9 University of California, Los Angeles and University of Wisconsin.

The equally deep women’s field includes 40 teams, including No. 2 Michigan State University, No. 5 University of Arkansas, No. 6 Stanford University, No. 8 Iowa State University and No. 9 Florida State University.

Both fields also feature teams from around the Ivy League, including Columbia, Cornell, Harvard and Princeton.

Women’s head coach Courtney Jaworski believes that the team is prepared to race entering the weekend.

“Competing at Boston College two weeks ago was good preparation for the size and status of this race,” Jaworski said. “I think the team has done a wonderful job working on packing during practices – something that will be important at this race – and they’re in a positive mindset moving into the weekend.”

Men’s head coach Barry Harwick echoed similar sentiments.

“We’re already as well prepared as we can be,” Harwick said. “If [the team] is confident in themselves, the team and our strategy, we’ll do well.”

Given the elite competition, performing well at this meet will improve both teams’ chances of earning a bid to the November national championships in Indiana. Apart from the automatic berths for the top two teams at each NCAA Regional meet, all other teams must qualify through an at-large bid, which is determined based on how the team performs against other top teams across the country.

Indeed, this seems to be the main focus for both teams.

Dana Giordano ’16 said the team hopes to improve on its seventh place finish from last year.

“This race has historically been tough for our team. I would like to turn that around this year and run to our full potential,” Curtis King ’16 said. “We don’t need the race of our lives, we just need to run to our fitness level.”

King also pointed to Ivy League competition at the meet as a good litmus test for the Big Green.

“Team-wise, I would like to see us be the top Ivy League team at the meet. If we accomplish that, an NCAA berth will follow,” King said.

Both teams sent runners to the New England Championships in Boston last week, but this week marks the team’s first true test since the Boston College Invite three weeks ago.

“The team has had three weeks of quality uninterrupted training,” King said. “I expect big things from our captain Silas [Talbot ’15] and my fellow ’16s.”

The women will assemble on the start line at 12 p.m. EST Friday for a 6-kilometer race, while the men’s 8-kilometer race begins at 12:45 p.m.

Both men’s and women’s teams will also send runners to compete at the Rothenburg Invitational hosted by Brown University in Providence, R.I., on Saturday.

After this weekend, the teams will begin their final preparations for the Ivy League Heptagonal Championship on Nov. 1 in Princeton, N.J.