Saturday’s 11th annual Greater Louisville Classic likely will be the largest collegiate cross country meet contested in the nation this year.
The Louisville Sports Commission will host 115 colleges and universities from 24 states, featuring more than 2,400 athletes. Of those teams, 35 men’s squads and 41 women’s teams are nationally ranked by either the NCAA Division I, II or II, or the NAIA.
Action at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park begins with the men’s gold division at 9:30 a.m. Then, it will be women’s gold at 10:15, men’s blue division at 10:45, women’s blue at 11:30, men’s silver division at noon and women’s silver at 12:30. High school and middle school competition will follow, beginning at 1:15 p.m.
Top teams in the men’s gold include sixth-ranked Texas, No. 8 Iona and No. 28 Columbia. Regionally ranked teams include Georgia, Arizona, Penn State and Louisville. Others to watch include Michigan State and Division II powers Grand Valley State and Southern Indiana.
Premier individuals in the 8,000-meter race include Arizona teammates Lawi Lalang and Stephen Sambu. Lawang is the defending NCAA champion, and Sambu was NCAA runner-up in 2010. North Carolina-Greensboro’s Paul Chelimo was the 5,000-meter runner-up at the 2012 NCAA Track and Field Championships.
Louisville, ranked No. 6 in the Southeast Region, is led by Kenyan freshman Ernest Kibet. He won his collegiate debut two weeks ago, leading the Cardinals to a first-place finish in the Winthrop Invitational. Also placing in the top 20 in that meet for U of L were Gordon Dooley, Mattias Wolter, Evan Hibbs and Ryan Eaton.
Kentucky is led by senior Luis Orta, sophomore Mackay Wilson and junior Matt Hillenbrand.
No. 1-ranked Washington leads the women’s Gold teams. The field, competing over a 5,000-meter course, also includes No. 8 Vanderbilt, No. 10 Arkansas, No. 12 Arizona, No. 14 Michigan State, No. 17 Penn State and No. 29 Wisconsin.
Washington is led by Katie Flood, who placed seventh in last year’s NCAA Championships, and Megan Goethals, the 5,000-meter runner-up in track last spring. Arizona boasts Jennifer Bergman, 26th in last year’s NCAA, and Elvin Kibet, seventh in the NCAA track 10,000. Vanderbilt’s contingent includes Liz Anderson, out of Louisville’s Manual High School.
U of L is paced by sophomore Michelle Molodynia, a Canadian, who placed eighth at Winthrop. Maria Frigo and Leah Kiyohara are the Cards’ next-best threats.
Kentucky features Cally Macumber and the reigning Freshman of the Week in the Southeastern Conference, Mary Kate Ponder. Macumber won the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational and Ponder placed 32nd, helping the Wildcats to a second-place team finish. Chelsea Oswald and Allison Peare also placed in the top 10 at Virginia.
Eastern Kentucky men climb in poll
Eastern Kentucky’s men, who climbed one spot to No. 25 in the nation this week, opted to compete Friday in the Notre Dame Invitational.
The Colonels are led by junior Soufiane Bouchikhi, the two-time defending Ohio Valley Conference Runner of the Year. A deep roster includes junior Wade Meddles, sophomore Ben Toroitich, Thijs Nijhuis and Ole Hesselbjerg, and freshman Amos Kosgey.
The EKU women will be competing Saturday at Louisville.