The No. 8 Michigan State Spartans’ Sept. 6 football matchup against the No. 3 Oregon Ducks has received plenty of hype over the past summer, but another MSU team will also be making the trip out to the University of Oregon.
On Friday Sept. 5, the Spartan runners will find themselves on Pre’s Trail (named after famed Oregon runner Steve Prefontaine) for the Bill Dellinger Invitational, running against some of the top runners on the west coast.
“The Oregon [cross country] coach called up and said well since you’re football team is coming out here would you be interested in bringing your team out here to run,” head coach Walt Drenth said.
While the team does not normally compete that weekend, or even travel out west during the season, the coaching staff saw it as a great opportunity and “a cool experience for the team.”
“We are extremely excited not only to bring the Dellinger meet back to its roots on Pre’s Trail for 2014, but also to have our cross country teams be part of a football game day weekend around Autzen Stadium,” Oregon head coach Robert Johnson said in a statement to Oregon Live.
“Getting Michigan State to come and run here the same weekend as the Oregon-Michigan State football game is an incredible opportunity to showcase our cross country student-athletes and the University of Oregon,” Johnson said.
The meet is typically small, with about 10 different teams competing. In past years, University of Washington, Boise State University, University of Portland, Wichita State University and University of Idaho have all been present.
While the meet may not be stocked with early predictions on ESPN and TV deal money, the matchup should be an interesting competition for both teams. While Oregon may be a storied running school, the Spartans have been proving themselves in the Big 10 and NCAA.
Last year, the Michigan State women finished sixth at the 2013 NCAA Championship, The Oregon women finished 14th . On the men’s side, Spartans did not finished ranked and the Oregon men held a fifth place NCAA ranking.
The Spartan women can easily go head to head with the women Ducks Rachele Schulist and Leah O’Connor lead a strong pack of returning runners. Caleb Rhynard will lead the Spartan men.
Alexa McCarthy is the host of Last Leg for Impact Sports.
Photo: Michigan State University Women’s Cross Country