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September 12, 2011

Sundodger Invitational Next for PLU Cross Country

THIS SATURDAY: Pacific Lutheran returns to the competitive cross country season this coming Saturday when it travels to Lincoln Park in West Seattle for the 19th Annual Sundodger Invitational hosted by the University of Washington. The women's 6000-meter race starts at 9 a.m., to be followed by the men's 8000-meter event at 9:40.

MORE ABOUT THE SUNDODGER: PLU will compete in the Open division, which includes non-NCAA Division I schools. Division I teams will race in the invitational portion of the event. Additionally, there are high school boys and girls varsity and junior varsity races on Saturday. PLU did not race as a team at last year's Sundodger, opting instead to run at a different meet, though two athletes competed. 

THEY'LL KNOW WHERE THEY STAND: PLU head coach Heather Kreier said that the teams "expect some great competition" at the Sundodger. With their current top 10 runners competing on Saturday, the Lutes will get a good feel for where they stand against most of the rest of the Northwest Conference as George Fox, Lewis & Clark, Linfield, Puget Sound, Whitman and Whitworth are all expected to run in the meet.  "The team is very excited as their training has ramped up with the rigors of their studies just beginning," Kreier said. "Some would say the calm before the storm."  Early weather forecasts show rain on Saturday ("fall will officially show her Saturday," Kreier said), much like two years ago when the PLU teams ran in typical Northwest weather.

EARLIER THIS YEAR: The Lutes opened their season on Sept. 3 with a second-place team finish at the Puget Sound Invitational cross country meet held at Ft. Steilacoom Park. Pacific won the team competition with 41 points, followed by PLU with 58, Saint Martin's 59 and host Puget Sound 65. Senior Katie Gebert was the leading Division III runner, placing second overall in a time of 24:48 to lead the Lutes. PLU also a strong performance from another senior, Rebecca Ford, sixth in 24:57. Other scorers for the Lutes were all sophomores: Erinn Kuest, 14th in 25:40, Michelle Domini, 16th in 25:54, and Allison Young, 18th in 25:58. Rounding out the PLU performances were frosh Jennifer Arbaugh, 19th in 26:01, senior Erica Johnson, 22nd in 26:17, sophomore Alyssa Rowland, 24th in 26:33, and frosh Maggia De La Vergne, 25th 26:39. "Missing one of our top runners in Suzy Olsen did not hinder the team effort of the women," Kreier said. "We are confident that we can overtake Pacific University with our full squad competing.  It was a very good start at this season opener. Jen Arbaugh stepped up to near point placement with her move to the sixth squad position.

HONORABLE MENTION PICK: Katie Gebert was an honorable mention selection in voting for the Northwest Conference Women's Cross Country Student-Athlete of the Week for the week ending Sept. 4.

- PLU -