Sept. 27, 2012
MADISON, Wis. - The No. 29-ranked Badgers are on a roll.
After winning their third-straight meet to open the season last weekend at the Panorama Farms invitational, the Wisconsin women's cross country is looking to continue its success at the Greater Louisville Classic on Saturday.
Wisconsin's top runners will be competing against several ranked opponents, including No. 1 Washington, No. 8 Vanderbilt and No. 10 Arkansas. The Badgers continue to build their case for an at-large bid for the NCAA championship at 9:15 a.m. in the 5-kilometer race in Louisville, Ky. The event serves as a preview of the course that hosts the NCAA meet in November.
"This weekend is an important one for us for a couple of reasons," UW head coach Jim Stintzi said. "We get a chance to run on the NCAA championship course, and that's certainly a good opportunity for us.
"We're also going to face quite a few ranked teams again this week, which gives us the chance to pick up some team points that we'll need down the road as we try to qualify for the NCAA meet."
Last weekend was the first in which performances count toward at-large qualifying for the NCAA championship. You gain points for "wins" over other teams that run their "A" lineups, and the Badgers have started the season strong after beating several tough teams, including No. 15-ranked Virginia, last Saturday.
The Badgers went on to win the team title at the Panorama Farms Invitational with 35 points behind a strong performance from senior Ashley Beutler, who placed fourth overall with a time of 17:43.8. Sophomore Gabrielle Anzalone earned a fifth-place finish and ended just behind Beutler in a time of 17:49.1. Beutler's performance earned her Big Ten Runner of the Week honors, the first of her career.
"We've picked up some confidence over the first few weeks of the season, and that's important," Stintzi said. "The people we expected to run at the front have done that, but we've also had some nice surprises in terms of how competitive some of our younger runners have been."
In addition to the Greater Louisville Classic, some of the UW's younger runners will compete at the 40th-annual Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational in Chicago. The 5-kilometer race begins at 11:45 a.m. Saturday, and will be a good opportunity for some of the team's developmental athletes to gain more race experience against a strong field that includes more than 50 teams.