MEET PREVIEW: Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational (Women’s Championship Race)
NEW OLREANS — Over the years the Wisconsin Invitational grew into the monster that it is today, only satiated when it devours numerous nationally-ranked teams.
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When the women’s championship race goes off at 1:30 p.m. ET, there will be 17 teams involved that were ranked in the most recent NCAA Division I Women’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll, in addition to six squads that received votes. You can see them all in the chart to the right.
This will be yet another test for top-ranked Providence as it continues its run atop the poll. The Friars won comfortably at each meet in which they competed thus far (Coast to Coast Battle in Beantown and the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational) and could get even stronger here. Many are expecting 2015 XC All-Americans Samantha Jones and Catarina Rocha to make their season debuts to join Sarah Collins, among others.
While Providence cleared every hurdle so far, those barries will be even larger tomorrow as Ray Treacy’s team will be joined by five teams ranked in the top-11: No. 3 NC State, No. 4 Washington, No. 6 Michigan State, No. 10 Boise State and No. 11 New Mexico.
The Wolfpack were a game runner-up to Providence in South Bend, Indiana and could add Ryen Frazier to an already stacked lineup that features Erika Kemp, Rachel Koon and Megan Moye.
The Huskies romped at their own invitational two weeks ago behind the trio of individual champion Charlotte Prouse, Amy-Eloise Neale and Katie Knight.
The Spartans continue to climb up the poll as Rachele Schulist and Alexis Wiersma get into postseason form, and most recently took second at the Roy Griak Invitational. Freshman Holly Bullough actually led the way for Michigan State in Minnesota with an 11th-place finish.
The Broncos will be without NCAA individual title contender Allie Ostrander once again, but fellow sophomore Brenna Peloquin is ready for another close-up. Peloquin won the Griak title by 11 seconds over Michigan’s Erin Finn and will be tested against another strong field this week.
While the dominant days of the Lady Lobos are long gone (32 points last year at this meet), Calli Thackery and Alice Wright are still to be feared. Thackery and Wright provide New Mexico a pair of low sticks and Joe Franklin’s team will always be a contender if the rest of the scoring lineup gels around them.
We’ll also see how BYU and Yale respond after recording surprising wins two weeks ago. The Cougars captured the team title at the Panorama Farms Invitational and the Bulldogs surged to a win at the Paul Short Run.
Individually, it woulndn’t be a stretch to see one of the eight XC All-Americans from 2015 take the win. We’ve already mentioned seven of them (Wright, Peloquin, Thackery, Collins, Wiersma, Jones and Rocha). The seventh is Notre Dame’s Anna Rohrer, who most recently won the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational in one of the fastest times in meet history.
Rest assured whatever happens in Madison, Wisconsin tomorrow will have a major impact on the next National Coaches’ Poll when it’s revealed LIVE on "Cross Country U" next Tuesday.