Nuttycombe To Highlight Weekend XC

Ednah Kurgat & her New Mexico mates both look to defend their Nuttycombe titles. (MIKE SCOTT)

For a decade now, Wisconsin’s Ed Nuttycombe Invitational has been a major stop on the collegiate cross country circuit. With the Badgers hosting the NCAA Championships this year (November 17, on the Zimmer Championship Course), Madison will be harrier central this fall. Nuttycombe is being staged earlier than usual because of Wisconsin’s addition of the crucial Pre-Nationals race on October 13.

The Nuttycombe entry list is imposing, what with the men’s side hosting 7 of the top 10 teams—and 19 of the top 30—in the latest USTFCCCA Poll. The teams: #1 Northern Arizona, #3 Portland, #5 Iowa State, #6 Alabama, #7 Colorado, #9 Wisconsin, #10 Colorado State, #14 Southern Utah, #15 Washington State, #16 Iona, #17 Air Force, #21 Michigan State, #22 Oklahoma State, #24 Princeton, #25 NC State, #26 Boise State, #27 Villanova, #29 Indiana, #30 Texas

Among the women, the count is also 7 of 10, plus 15 of 30: #1 New Mexico, #2 Colorado, #5 Boise State, #6 NC State, #7 Wisconsin, #8 Villanova, #9 Arkansas, #13 Penn State, #15 Michigan State, #17 Iowa State, #19 Indiana, #25 Providence, #27 Georgetown, #=29 Oklahoma State, #=29 Portland.

Michael Smith, coach of powerhouse Northern Arizona, says, “We try to get certain things out of the competitions at this time of year. One of those things is research and reconnaissance on the national championship course. Next we try to put our athletes in particular environments that are important to replicate. Depth of field and race execution are going to be a huge part of this early season test.”

“The Nuttycombe will mark 4 weeks since our last competition,” says Lumberjack assistant Becca DeLoache. “We have been getting in some really great workouts. I know a lot of our runners are antsy to get out and compete so we are looking forward to put the hard work over that time into action.”

Says Northern Arizona standout Tyler Day, “We are expecting to have a really good showing for both men and women. We want to keep the magic going that we have had over the past two years. We have been training really hard during this rest period.”

New Mexico coach Joe Franklin (see video) says, “This is our third competition but it’s really our first competition. It’s the first competition where we have run the top men and women all year so we’re going into this a little blind, a lot of the schools have run already. But this is the same template that we’ve used the last 10 years.

Adds, Franklin, “On the women’s side we lost Alice Wright, who was the only four-time All-American in the 10,000 and cross country in the history of the NCAA, and Kieran Casey [both to graduation]. Other than that we return everybody from last year’s national championship team. Going into this race we use it for figuring out where we are, having fun, going through the motions for the first time, getting to know each other and what each others’ personalities are like on race day and traveling. So it should be a lot of fun; it will be interesting to see the outcome.

New Mexico’s lineup, per Franklin: “Ednah Kurgat, Weini Kelati, Charlotte Prouse, Adva Cohen, on the women’s side, and then we’re going to change it up a little bit on the back end to give some of the women a chance run in a very big meet. We have three women that have not run in a major meet like this before so we need to get them the experience. We’re only allowed to run 7 so we will hold out Alondra Negron, who was our fifth runner most of the year [in ’17]. She’ll run in the open race but she is an outstanding runner, but has the experience so we’re going to run Natasha Bernal, Hannah Nuttall and Catrina Thomas.”

Other Collegiate Action

Although the great preponderance of the highly rated teams will be in Wisconsin, there will be notable squads at other races:

Joe Piane Invitational (Notre Dame)
Men—#2 BYU, #28 Furman
Women—#11 BYU, #12 Furman, #21 Cal, #22 Notre Dame

Stanford Invitational
Men—#4 Stanford (Cardinal leader Grant Fisher, our preseason choice for national runner-up honors, won’t run; he’ll open at Pre-Nationals), #23 UCLA
Women—#3 Stanford, #16 Washington

Paul Short Invitational (Lehigh)
Women—#14 Utah State, #26 Georgia

Greater Louisville Classic
Men—#19 Middle Tennessee State
Women—#10 Michigan

Roy Griak Invitational (Minnesota)
Women—#23 Minnesota

Top 20s Not Racing
Men—#8 Syracuse, #11 Oregon, #12 Washington, #13 Arkansas, #18 Virginia, #20 Mississippi
Women—#4 Oregon, #18 Mississippi, #20 Georgia Tech □