The Louisville Sports Commission will host 97 colleges and universities from 20 states Saturday in the ninth annual Greater Louisville Classic, the largest college meet in the South.
More than 2,000 athletes are expected to compete at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park. The field includes 29 men’s teams and 23 women’s squads that are ranked in either the NAIA, NCAA (Divisions I, II, III) or National Junior College Athletic Association polls. NCAA Division II teams will be returning to Louisville for the national championships, Dec. 4.
U of L, ranked No. 7 in the NCAA Southeast Region, is the defending men’s team champion. Expected challengers to the Cardinals include Eastern Kentucky (No. 6 in the Southeast Region) and Colorado School of Mines (No. 3 in NCAA II). Others include the 4-7-8 teams in NCAA Division II – Grand Valley State, Southern Indiana and Queens (N.C.); 5-6 teams in NCAA I South Region — Georgia and Ole Miss; the No. 9 team in the NCAA I Midwest, Southern Illinois; and No. 11 in the Southeast, Davidson.
Men’s individual leaders include Mississippi’s Barnabas Kirui (fourth in 2009 NCAA, first in 2007 NCAA steeplechase), Queens’ Michael Crouch (D-II 1,500-meter champion) and Daniel Kirwa (D-II cross country runner-up), U of L’s Matt Hughes (D-I steeplechase champion) and Michael Eaton (2008 D-I track all-American), and EKU freshman sensation Bouchikhi Soufiane.
Leading women’s teams include the Nos. 3-4 teams in the NCAA South Region — Vanderbilt and Georgia — and the Nos. 2-4 Division II squads — Grand Valley State and Shippensburg.
Individuals to watch include Shippensburg’s Neely Spence (D-II 2008 cross country runner-up and two-time 5,000-meter champion), Western Washington’s Sarah Porter (D-II 2009 cross country runner-up and 2010 10,000-meter runner-up), Western Kentucky’s Marion Kandie, Kentucky’s Chelsea Oswald, U of L’s Kim Grieshaber and EKU’s Picoty Leitich.
Competition will be split into three divisions. The schedule — men’s gold race, 9:30 a.m.; women’s gold, 10:15; men’s blue, 11; women’s blue, 11:45; men’s silver, 12:30 p.m.; women’s silver, 1:15 p.m.
After the collegiate races, more than 1,200 high school and middle school athletes from Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee and Ohio will compete, starting at 2:30 p.m.