Vikings to send 13 runners to compete for conference titles this weekend
The 2011 Big Sky Conference Cross Country Championships will take place this Saturday in Pocatello, Idaho, on the campus of Idaho State University.
Portland State runners will look to improve on last year’s showing in the meet when the men and women finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
“This is the pivotal time of the season,” sophomore Zach Carpenter said. “Preparing for conference is what matters most right now to these guys.”
Carpenter will be the runner to watch for the Vikings after posting a strong showing this season, including consecutive victories to start the season at the John Frank Memorial Invitational and Pier Park Invitational in September, earning him conference Athlete of the Week honors for the week of Sept. 13. Carpenter also picked up a fourth-place finish among collegiate runners at the Adidas/Concordia Invitational on Oct. 15.
It should be noted that Carpenter’s best finish in an 8,000-meter last season was at the Big Sky Championships, a 33rd overall finish.
Among the female runners for the Vikings, junior Amber Rozcichna has paced the squad this year, finishing as the top runner for PSU in four of her six meets this year. Unfotunately, Rozcicha will miss the rest of the season because of a hip injury that’s been nagging her since last spring.
Junior Brittan will pick up the slack. Castillo clocked a time of 18:31.59 in last year’s championship race in Cheney, Wash., finishing 59th overall.
“We have a lot of really determined runners,” Castillo said. “We all push each other to do well and we will do the same this weekend.”
The Vikings will be sending 13 runners in total to Pocatello, seven men and six women. They will have their hands full come Saturday, as perennial conference powers look to continue their dominance in the Big Sky.
On the men’s side, Northern Arizona is the heavy favorite, having won four straight titles and seven of the last eight. Senior Diego Estrada finished second in the championship meet last year behind former teammate David McNeill. Estrada is also a two-time conference cross country Athlete of the Week winner this season. The NAU men have 21 conference titles in their history.
On the women’s side, Montana will look to defend their title after knocking three-time defending champion NAU off the throne last year. One female runner to watch for is Idaho State senior Bradi Hutchinson, who has won four of the Bengals’ six meets this season. She will have the home crowd behind her, as the Bengals are hosting the championships for the first time since 2002.
Another female runner to watch is Rochelle Kanuho of Northern Arizona. The junior finished ﬁfth overall last season at the championship, and has been named conference Athlete of the Week on two occasions this year.
The women’s 5,000-meter race will begin at 10 a.m. and the men’s 8,000-m race will start at 11 a.m.
For more information about competing runners and event details, visit BigSkyConf.com