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October 13, 2017

Wisconsin Invite Features NAU vs. Syracuse Duel, Justyn Knight vs. Grant Fisher

I miss Wisconsin. I miss cheese curds. I miss being at the Wisconsin Invitational. This year’s edition gets underway today and it’s going to be a real good one. We’ll see quite the duel between Syracuse’s world championship finalist Justyn Knight and Stanford’s NCAA champion Grant Fisher. Wisconsin’s Morgan McDonald has yet to run this season and head coach Mick Byrne has been mum on whether or not his top guy will be making his season debut on his home course. McDonald had a long summer and so there’s certainly a possibility that he could redshirt. It takes a little bit of the appeal away from the great battle we can see in Louisville next month, but it could be a smart decision.

If you caught our pre-season Wood Report individual rankings, Justyn Knight was ranked as our pre-season NCAA champion. Last year, he looked real good all year but fell short at the NCAA Championships. Knight has yet to race this fall but the highlight of his summer was that ninth place finish in the world championship 5,000 meter final. Fisher will also be making his season debut.

How’d it play out for the three top dogs in last year’s race at Wisconsin? Knight took the win in 23:53.1, McDonald was third in 23:55.4 and Fisher was fourth in 23:55.5. It’s so tough to make any sort of judgement on who is fit going into these races because so much is under wraps before the debut. You don’t want to show your cards too early. I’m picking Knight because he had one hell of a summer. I’ll put Fisher over McDonald and that’s as far as I’ll go with any prediction. I’m not an expert, Isaac Wood is. Tweet at him for his picks: @Wood_Report.

The team battle is also going to be really good. Northern Arizona (No. 3 in the Wood Report/No. 1 in the USTFCCCA rankings), Syracuse (No. 2 in the Wood Report/No. 3 in the USTFCCCA rankings) and Stanford (No. 4 in both). We could run through all of the ranked teams that have made the trip out to Madison but it’s really late as I’m writing this and there’s 20 of them. This really is a litmus test for the national championship with just BYU, Arkansas, Colorado and Oregon really missing for this to be the big dance. NAU was last year’s champion and was led by Futsum Zienasellassie’s runner-up finish behind Knight. No Futsum this year but Matt Baxter will probably finish in the top five for them. They’re coming off a 1-2-3-4 run in Louisville, which Isaac said was maybe more impressive than the BYU sweep at Dellinger. Syracuse won the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown with Colin Bennie, Philo Germano and Aidan Tooker running together for a 3-4-5 finish. Incorporate Knight in there and you’ve got yourself a tight battle with the Lumberjacks. I remember when Syracuse had its big breakout at Wisco a few years back so I’m tempted to pick them but I’ll take NAU over Cuse.

On the women’s side, there’s less ranked teams but it’ll still be close between No. 3 New Mexico and No. 5 Stanford. The Lobos are coming off the big win at the Joe Piane Invitational in South Bend. Ednah Kurgat won the race but this one won’t be as easy for the individual crows as it’ll feature Allie Ostrander from Boise State. She’s back and maybe better than ever. She on in Louisville and looks to claim her second individual title in Wisconsin because she won the 2015 edition of the race with a course-record. Don’t sleep on Alice Wright though.

I believe we have a preview of PreNats in the works so I’ll leave that to our own Joe O’Connell. Stay tuned for that.

Here’s how you can get all of the results in real time:

Live Results

Post-race men’s results

Post-race women’s results

Here’s a couple headlines to catch you up on the latest happenings of the track and field world as you sip your coffee. If there’s any story that you think should make the next edition of TLC, then shoot me message. You can reach me at: [email protected] or tweet at me @ChrisChavez.

Rita Jeptoo’s coach cleared of charges of assisting in doping

When someone gets popped for doping, there’s always an effort to try and trace the steps of how that person came to using performance enhancing drugs. Sometimes coaches and agents should be held accountable. That’s what the Kenyan courts are trying to do but they have cleared coach Claudio Berardelli of any charges that he had a role in administering EPO to Jeptoo. She remains suspended until October of next year.

Virgin Sport Festival of Fitness Cancelled due to Bay Area Wildfires

Kudos to Mary Wittenberg and the team at Virgin Sport for making a good call and deciding to cancel this weekend’s races not just for the healthy and safety of the athletes and volunteers but it allows Bay Area first responders and resources to go into battling the deadly fires. Virgin Sport is also donating $25,000 donation to the Northern California coastal region chapter of the American Red Cross. It will be matched by Asics.

Ato Boldon still having fun

One of the biggest sports stories of the week has been the United States’ failure to qualify for next year’s World Cup. If you followed along on Twitter, you may have come across a little track tie. The loss happened at Ato Boldon Stadium, which is named after the accomplished sprinter and current NBC commentator. His timelines has been a lot fun to see beaming with pride for Trinidad and Tobago. This was a good tweet.

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