Event: NCAA Pre-Nationals; Santa Clara Brono Invitational
Where: LaVern Gibson Course – Terre Haute, Ind.; Baylands Park – Santa Clara, Calif.
When: Saturday at 11:35 a.m.; 9:45 a.m.
Who to watch: There’s one problem with having a great front-runner and a very talented group of freshmen: another top runner can be overlooked.
Don’t look past senior Kaitlin Gregg.
“She’s in that classic unsung role,” says head coach Drew Wartenburg.
Though often overshadowed by teammate Kim Conley, Gregg is of monumental importance to the team.
“You can’t look past Kaitlin,” says Wartenburg.
Gregg has had an outstanding season thus far. She placed second at the Aggie Open, eighth at Sundodger and 13th at Stanford.
Don’t forget last track season, either. Gregg placed third in the 10,000m at the Big West Championships and earned a berth to the NCAA West Regionals in the 5,000m.
Did you know? This will be the first time the Aggies have ever competed at the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet, held on the same course that hosts the NCAA Championships.
The meet is so large that it’s broken into two races per sex, with 42 teams in the Aggies women’s race and 40 in the men’s.
Preview: Next to the NCAA Championships, this is the most stacked meet of the year. Both races boast a slew of nationally ranked teams. The women will face, among others, No. 3 Florida State and No. 4 Minnesota. The men must race No. 3 Colorado and No. 7 Iona.
But the quality of the field isn’t intimidating the Aggies.
“We’re shifting focus from the whole notion of a big meet with pressure and expectations,” Wartenburg said. “Rather we’re looking at it as a big opportunity.“
Though the Aggies aren’t nationally ranked like many of the opponents they’ll face, that shouldn’t be a problem.
“Frankly, being ranked lower than we would like is more of a motivation than getting a high ranking,” says Wartenburg. “It’s fuel for the fire.“
“It’s obviously a big step up for us coming off the transition from Division II,” said senior captain KC Cody, “but it’s where we belong.“
In addition to competing in Indiana, the rest of the Aggies will be racing at the “Largest Collegiate Meet on the West Coast This Weekend” – the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational.
There the Aggies will see Sacramento State for the fifth time this season. The meet features teams from six NCAA conferences, including Big West Conference member Long Beach State.