Falcons Take on Nation's Elite at adidas Invitational

    Taylor Drolshagen

    Taylor Drolshagen

    Oct. 17, 2013

    The Air Force cross country team returns to action this Saturday (Oct. 19), when it takes on some of the nation's top collegiate competition at the fifth-annual Wisconsin adidas Invitational. The Falcons will send 12 men and eight women to the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course in Madison, Wis., for their final regular season race.

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    Wisconsin's adidas Invitational begins with the men's eight-kilometer Championship race at 11 a.m. (CT), while the women's six-kilometer Championship event follows at noon. In addition, a pair of Open races will take place at 12:45 p.m. (men) and 1:20 p.m. (women), respectively. Spectator parking is located five miles north of the course at Blackhawk Church in Middleton (9520 Brader Way), with shuttle service available for a roundtrip fee of $5. For those who can't make it to Wisconsin, Flotrack.org will be broadcasting live from the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course.

    The adidas Invitational features 36 men's teams and 37 women's teams, including a combined 48 that are ranked or receiving votes in the latest USTFCCCA Coaches' Poll. Joining Air Force are men's and women's teams from Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, BYU, Columbia, Dartmouth, Florida, Georgia, Harvard, Indiana, Iowa State, Louisville, Michigan State, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, Providence, Syracuse, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, Washington, Weber State and Wisconsin, men's team's from Eastern Kentucky, Georgetown, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Northern Arizona, Portland, Tennessee and UMass, and women's teams from Boston College, Connecticut, Cornell, Duke, Northwestern, San Francisco, Stony Brook, UC Davis, Vanderbilt and Yale.

    Isaiah Bragg, Dan Caddigan, Riley Coates, Patrick Corona, Elliot Myers Jake Hawkins, Gavin Owens, Charlie Perkins and Zach Perkins will represent Air Force in the men's Championship race, while Heather Connick, Taylor Drolshagen, Annette Eichenberger, Rebecca Esselstein, Hannah Everson, Kirsten Linnartz, Lindy Long and Samantha Skold will represent the program in the women's Championship race. In addition, Carl Eifert, Kyle Eller and Daniel Lara will compete in the men's Open race.

    The 20 Falcons running this weekend have not competed since the season-opening Colorado State Open on Sept. 6, as Air Force was forced to withdraw from the Notre Dame Invitational because of the suspension of all intercollegiate athletics at the Academy due of the government shutdown. Since the CSU meet featured identical 5K races for both genders, Saturday will mark the first 8K race of the season for the 12 men on Air Force's traveling party and the first 6k competition for the eight members of the women's contingent.

    Taylor Drolshagen will be returning to her home state of Wisconsin on Saturday, when she competes at the adidas Invitational. The Air Force junior grew up from Muskego, which is located about 75 miles from Madison.

    The Falcons last competed at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational in 2011, when Jeremy Drenckhahn (36th in the men's field) and Melissa Fuerst (86th in the women's field) used then-career times to pace their respective teams. Jim Walmsley also claimed a top-40 finish, as he placed just two seconds behind Drenckhahn in 38th.

    The Air Force coaching staff doubled in size this month, as head coach Juli Benson announced the hiring of assistant coach Ryan Collins. An All-American runner at the University of Virginia and the University of Wisconsin, Collins was a member of the Badger team that claimed the team title at the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships. In addition, Collins will join Benson and volunteer assistant Mark Stanforth on the sideline for the middle distance and distance runners during the track and field season.

    Finishing 19th in a field of over 225 runners, Grant Caswell was the top men's finisher at the Fort Hays State Tiger Open on Oct. 12. Caswell, who finished 15th among collegiate runners, paced a top-50 scoring squad that included Matthew Dorsey (35th), Ryan Graf (38th), Zack Christenson (42nd) and Andrew Hood (49th). Overall, the men finished sixth in the team standings.

    For the second straight week, Emily Wagemaker was the Falcons' top finisher in the women's race, as she finished 36th at the Fort Hays State Tiger Open on Oct. 12. Wagemaker, who also paced a trio of athletes at the Rocky Mountain Shootout on Sept. 28, clocked a team-best time of 19:08.76. Morgan Fagnant and Taylor Schwenke rounded out the trio with respective 43rd (19:17.41) and 55th-place (19:36.97) finishes.

    The championship season begins for the Falcons on Friday, Nov. 1, when they host the 2013 Mountain West Cross Country Championships at the Academy's Eisenhower Golf Club (Blue Course). The men will open the competition with an 8K championship at 10 a.m., while the women's 6K championship race will take place at 10:45 a.m.



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