NORMAN, Okla. – The University of Oklahoma track and field team will split the third week of outdoor competition at two different locations this weekend. Nine Sooners will head out west to Stanford, Calif., to compete in the Stanford Invitational on Friday while a much larger group goes east to Tuscaloosa, Ala. for the Crimson Tide Invitational on Saturday.
Distance runners will make up the group headed west as the Sooners. The Stanford meet marks a homecoming for current Sooner distance coach Jason Dunn, who spent four years at Stanford as the head coach of cross country.
“This is a big meet for our distance runners and distance runners nationally,” explained head coach Jim VanHootegem. “We are taking a really strong group of runners out there. This is really a big pre-Big 12 opportunity for our distance people.”
Scheduled to compete for the Sooners at Stanford are Alex Deir and Jacob Burcham in the men’s 1500-meter run, Dylan Blankenbaker and Patrick Gomez in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and Eric Graf joins Abbabiya Simbassa in the 10,000-meter run.
Elena Arriaza and Molly Williams, who are both competing in the 5,000-meter run, represent the distance women at the meet. Junior Brandon Doughty is running on the men’s side of the 5,000.
Sprinters and select field event student-athletes will make up the Alabama squad. OU will be competing against top competition there, including several teams ranked in the men’s and women’s top 25. The Sooner men will face No. 6 Florida State, No. 10 Alabama, and No. 19 Penn State, while the women line up against No. 12 Florida State and No. 17 Penn State.
“One of the reasons we are going to this meet is because we want to see great competition week in and week out,” VanHootegem said. “This meet gives us a chance to see a lot of teams that we do not see often. Alabama has a world class facility and this just gives us a chance to see some really good competition.”
VanHootegem added that this weekend is another chance for the team to compete hard and improve as the season continues.
“We want to see people sticking their nose in competition and going 100 percent the whole time,” VanHootegem said. “What we want to see, and what we always want to see, is effort. I am confident that we will see that. Even coming back on Monday (from the Texas Relays) everybody seemed focused. The goal is to carry that through the weekend.
Live results of the Stanford Invitational will be available at Stanford Invitational. The Alabama meet can be followed at Crimson Tide Invitational. Additionally, recaps will be posted on SoonerSports.com.