Sept. 14, 2012
The Montana cross country teams will continue their early-season meets Saturday when the Grizzlies compete at the Montana State Invitational at the Bridger Creek Golf Course in Bozeman. The men's five-mile race starts at 9 a.m., the women's three-mile race at 9:40 a.m.
Montana and Montana State will be joined at the meet by fellow Big Sky Conference members Idaho State and Weber State, plus Wyoming, Utah Valley and the Utah women. Also racing will be MSU Billings, Carroll and Rocky.
Looking up: Montana is not ranked in the 15-team-deep Mountain Region standings on either the men's or women's side, but plenty of the teams competing Saturday are. The top-ranked team is the Weber State women, who are ranked first in the region and 17th nationally.
The Wildcats won the Utah State Invitational two weeks ago in dominating fashion, placing six in the top nine overall, with Amber Henry, last year's Big Sky champion, taking first.
The Utah women are ranked sixth in the region, Wyoming 11th and Idaho State 14th.
On the men's side, Weber State ranks fifth, Montana State eighth and Wyoming 10th.
Men's outlook: The Montana men are coming off a feel-good effort last Friday with their winning performance at the Carroll Invitational. The Griz had four in the top six overall and won the team title by a sizeable margin over second-place Spokane Community College.
"Our goal will be to keep our pack approach this weekend, but we need to make sure we're not getting complacent just having a pack running together," UM coach Courtney Babcock said.
"They need to work together and say, `Let's go get that next guy, let's get to the front or let's get around these guys.' They'll have teams ranked ahead of them on the course, so that will always be added motivation."
Women's outlook: The Montana women will race for the second straight week with a thin roster of just five athletes: Senior Bobbi Furrer, sophomores Allie Parks, Autumn Taniguchi and Carly Wilczynski and redshirt freshman Mariah Meyer.
Wilczynski, second, and Park, ninth, both finished in the top 10 last week at Carroll, but no one else cracked the top 30 in what was the first collegiate cross country race for Furrer and Meyer.
Weber State was untouchable at the MSU Invitational last September, scoring 28 points to runner-up Utah State's 83. Henry was the overall winner.
Montana won't challenge many of the teams at the meet, but the race is a great opportunity for Wilczynski, eighth at MSU last fall, and Parks, 10th, to go up against some of the top talent around.
"It's a chance for Carly and Allie to be competitive with some of the best girls in the country," Babcock said. "The more times you can get around better athletes, the more it's going to help you."
Upcoming: The Grizzlies will host the Montana Invitational on Friday, Sept. 28, at the UM Golf Course. The women's 5k race starts at 5:15 p.m., the men's 8k race at 5:45.
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