Yellowjacket Men, Clan Women XC Nab Team of the Week
SFU's Lindsay Butterworth (left) was the top finisher amongst NCAA DII runners at last week's Erik Anderson Invitational.
SFU's Lindsay Butterworth (left) was the top finisher amongst NCAA DII runners at last week's Erik Anderson Invitational.

Monday, September 23, 2013

PORTLAND, Ore. – A pair of Great Northwest Athletic Conference cross country teams produced outstanding results at the Erik Anderson Invitational, as the performances by Simon Fraser’s women and Montana State Billings’ men has earned the teams GNAC Team of the Week honors.

Facing competition from NCAA Division I schools, SFU and MSU Billings both held their ground well and placed within the top five at the NCAA DII national preview meet.

The Clan finished second overall with Lindsay Butterworth (Sr., North Vancouver, BC – Handsworth Secondary) and Kirsten Allen (Sr., Landon, ON – Saunders Secondary) placing first and second amongst DII competition. Butterworth crossed the finish line with a time of 21:59.09, and Allen was right on her teammate’s heels at 22:06.17.

The Yellowjacket men entered last week’s meet ranked No. 9 in the west region and ran past four DII schools ranked in the top-10 regionally to make a bold statement.

“We were sitting at No. 9 going in, so we wanted to see where we stacked up against Humboldt and Cal Baptist because we don’t see them often,” MSUB head coach Dave Coppock commented regarding the No. 3 and No. 7 teams in the region. “It was a huge confidence booster for us, as the guys packed really well and ran a controlled race.”

Mike Luhr (Jr., Gilletee, WY – Savannah College of Art & Design) was MSU Billings’ top finisher, landing 14th overall on the leader board with a time of 26:07.55, and teammate Robert Peterson (So., Billings, MT - Skyview) came in 21st with a time of 26:26.01. “Michael ran very controlled throughout the race and Robert felt like he could have gone even faster,” Coppock said.

Not only did both teams finish strongly, but perhaps more importantly each got a feel for the course they have the potential to navigate in the national meet in November.

“We were really excited about seeing the preview course and meeting some of the teams we have never run against,” SFU coach Brit Townsend commented. “Our girls are really motivated to go to nationals this year.”

Last season marked the first time in Townsend’s 20-year coaching career that she did not bring a team to the national meet. “We were disappointed last year and felt like we could’ve been there,” Townsend responded when asked about coming up short in last season’s regional meet in Hawaii. “We have set a goal of being prepared to go to nationals this year and the girls are really ready.”

Coppock also commented on the luxury of having a first look and racing the course. “We really like Spokane and it is familiar territory for us largely because it is a similar climate (to Billings),” Coppock said.

Both coaches agree that health will weigh heavily on their chances to make the national meet.

“Peggy Noel (So., Tsawwassen, BC – South Delta Secondary) will provide depth for us, but she is coming off of an injury and didn’t race at Erik Anderson,” Townsend commented regarding the hopeful return of one of her top runners.

“The good thing is that our runners weren’t spent afterwards, because we have really been training for a 10K,” Coppock said regarding the 8K distance covered last week. “Runners’ health is  the key for every team and we feel like all of our guys are in great shape.”

For now, SFU and MSU Billings will both look to build off the successful showing last week and continue to grow their confidence in preparation of making a run towards the national championship. “It was awesome to see a pack of yellow all coming across the line together,” Coppock said. “They earned it.”