This was the year’s biggest weekend of NCAA cross country outside of championship season. With nearly all of the nation’s top teams in action, California teams had opportunities to make major statements before they contest their conference meets in two weeks, and they certainly did in many cases.
STANFORD MEN UPSET THE FIELD IN MADISON
After hours of delay due to a timing system malfunction, final results indicated the #8 ranked Stanford Cardinal had upset the field to win the Wisconsin adidas Invitational with 135 team points. Iona finished second with 145 points and Oklahoma was third with 166 points. Sophomore twin brothers Jim and Joe Rosa both clocked 23:44 for the 8k course to lead the way for Stanford in 17th and 19th places, respectively. Senior Miles Unterreiner was close behind in 21st place. Key finishes for the team came from fourth man Tyler Stutzman in 33rd place and fifth man Ben Johnson in 45th place.
Many observers counted the Stanford men out this season after losing a number of standouts to graduation and nearly losing to Division II Adams State at their home invitational two weeks ago. With a win against a top notch field, the Cardinal look poised to contend for the Pac-12 conference title and a top four finish at the national championships.
UCLA also performed well on Friday, finishing tenth as a team and earning crucial at-large points to bolster their hopes at qualifying for the NCAA meet on November 17. The Bruins were one of the first teams to miss nationals last year after finishing on the bubble at West Regionals.
Both teams will next head to the Pac-12 meet to battle for conference supremacy against Pre-Nationals champ Colorado and third-place finisher Oregon.
Full results from the Wisconsin championship men’s 8k race here.
PAC-12 TEAMS EXCEL, SET UP SHOWDOWN FOR CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Stanford women took a page from their men’s team with a second place finish at Wisconsin with 181 points behind Iowa State’s 109 points, impressively placing their top four runners in the top 25 of the 6k race. The Achilles’ heel for the Cardinal was their fifth runner who finished well back in 119th place. Behind Stanford in the team standings were Pac-12 rivals Arizona (242 points) and Washington (252 points).
Out at Pre-Nationals in Louisville, Oregon backed up their #4 national ranking with a runner-up finish just 15 points behind #1 ranked Florida State. Fifth-year senior Alexi Pappas again led the way for the Lady Ducks in third place while Jordan Hasay ran well enough to finish fifth.
With strong performances this weekend, tt is more than likely that four Pac-12 teams will be ranked in the top six of Tuesday’s USTFCCCA national poll, setting up an epic showdown for the Pac-12 championships on October 27.
CHRISTIAN HESCH ADMITS TO DRUG USE
Christian Hesch, known on the elite running scene for his hectic racing schedule and racing in board shorts, publicly admitted to using EPO. According to a public letter published by Competitor, Hesch claims he has used the banned blood-boosting drug for two years starting in August 2010. Read more about the situation in a story by the New York Times here.
Read my column on the situation on Flotrack here.