CORVALLIS, Ore. – A large portion of Oregon State’s cross country team will have its final tune-up race before the Pac-12 Championships when the Beavers send a contingent of nine to the Bronco Invitational, hosted by Santa Clara University at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale, Calif. on Saturday morning. The Women’s 6K Invitational begins at 9:45 a.m.
“This is an opportunity for us to go out, get on a really fast course, be able to win a race as a team and have that experience, which will be great for the young women in the program,” Oregon State assistant coach Laura Harmon said. “I feel like we could have been in the hunt at the Regional Preview, but I think that this is one where we go into it and that’s our intent. If that’s what we come out with, I think that’s going to be a huge boost in confidence for our team.”
The eighth annual Bronco Invite will feature squads from coast-to-coast and be made up of teams from three different NCAA Division 1 regions with teams from Division 2, Division 3, NAIA, junior colleges, as well as two schools from Canada.
All but one of Oregon State’s entries – Kinsey Gomez, Kristiane Width, Emily Weber, Aly Nielson, Kira Kelly, Holly Cavalluzzo, Sandra Martinez, Taylor Nowlin and Kelsi Schaer – last raced at the NCAA Inter-Regiona l Jamboree in Sacramento, Calif. on Oct. 4 in which the Beavers finished tied for fifth out of 19 teams.
Schaer, who missed that trip while recovering from an illness, will be making her first appearance since she ran 22:18 at the 6K Sundodger Invite in Seattle, Wash. in mid-September.
On Saturday, Oregon State will be focusing on its start, which hindered the team from achieving a higher finish at the Regional Preview. Despite getting out a little slower than usual as a group, the Beavers rebounded to post a number of strong times two weeks ago in Sacramento.
Kinsey Gomez ran the 5,000-meter course in 17:10, besting her PR at the distance by more than 30 seconds and is now fifth all-time at Oregon State. Emily Weber’s effort in just her second collegiate cross country race also put her among OSU’s all-time bests. The redshirt freshman ran 17:26, which placed her ninth in school history for 5,000 meters. She was followed by true freshman Holly Cavalluzzo, who ran 17:33, which moved her into the 12th position on Oregon State’s all-time list.
“Getting out, establishing yourself and running with people [will be our focus],” Harmon added. “We’ve been working on that in practice, having the first part of a workout be a little bit quicker to get used to being faster at the start, and then having to work through the later discomfort.”
Other Pac-12 schools participating in the meet include Cal and Stanford. Regionally-ranked squads in the west who will be sending some runners to Baylands Park are San Francisco (4th), Stanford (5th), UC Davis (9th) and Loyola Marymount (15th). Some of those teams will be split, as NCAA Pre-Nationals in Terra Haute, Ind. and the Wisconsin adidas Invitational in Madison, Wisc. are also being run on Saturday.
The Bronco Invite will serve as the final tune-up for the majority of Oregon State’s entries before the Pac-12 Championships in Colorado on Nov. 2, a group which has led the Beavers to one of their best starts to a cross country campaign.
OSU is currently ranked 13th in the West Region, but has been as high as seventh this season.
“We’ll still have a couple quality workouts this following week before we go to Pac-12’s,” Harmon said. But for the most part, they’re focusing on trying to recover, get into the race at Pac-12’s and feel ready to go. It’s the fine-tuning at this point.”
A large portion of OSU’s squad not competing tomorrow in California will be entered at next Friday afternoon’s Beaver Classic, hosted by the Corvallis Running Project in Avery Park.