Weekend Preview: Liberty Bell, Memphis Twilight Top the Calendar

The second weekend of September brings forth some great competition.  With most of the top teams starting up their seasons over the past two weeks, this weekend looks to be the most competitive yet.  See which meets stand out heading into the weekend.

Weekend Preview (9/12)

Liberty Bell Invitational (CO)

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For yet another year, the Liberty Bell Invitational is one of the top cross country invitationals in the country.  This year all eyes will focus on the boys races, as three Foot Locker returnees from Colorado will see who is fastest over the same course.  Bobby Nicolls (Sr., Regis, CO), Evan Appel (Sr., Dakota Ridge, CO) and Joseph Manilafasha (Sr., Denver North, CO), all ranked in the Midwest top five currently, will go head-to-head to see just who the best is right now.

The team competition should be equally as exciting, with nationally ranked Albquerque Academy (NM) taking part.  Last weekend Albuquerque Academy soundly beat in-state rival Los Alamos (NM), who was at the time ranked in the U.S. top ten, at the UNM Lobo Invitational.  Academy will look to build upon that success, but will find top teams from Wyoming and Colorado challenging them every step of the way. 

On the girls side, Fort Collins (CO) is the top challenger, especially after rolling through their competition the past three weeks of the season.  This squad is looking very strong from top to bottom and they haven't run their entire varsity squad yet. 

Brooks Memphis Twilight CC Classic (TN)

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Many of the top teams in the South and Southeast are taking part in this invitational Saturday.  Hoover (AL), St. Agnes (TN), West Plains (MO) and Daviess County (KY) are just a few of the top squads.  Individually, Kathy Kroeger (Sr., Independence, TN) and Patrick McGregor (Sr., Hoover, AL) lead the way, both looking to make a statement that they are the best in the region and two of the best in the nation currently.  Click Here for Full Preview (TennesseeRunner.com)

Peoria Woodruff Invitational (IL)

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The starting line is drawn and many of the top teams and individuals in the start are ready to race. The annual Peoria Woodruff Invitational is loaded with talent this year on both the boys and girls sides, but the real story can be told in two parts.

The boys AAA field can't get much better. Seven of the top 13 squads in the state are scheduled to compete, including IL#1/US#7 Neuqua Valley. Neuqua Valley looked incredibly strong last weekend, beating a solid field of competition at the Hinsdale Hornet-Red Devil Invitational.  Not only did teammates Danny Pawola and Aaron Beattie go 1-2, but their next seven runners placed in the top twenty.  Few teams have shown this type of dominance and depth, so expectations should be high for this squad making their first trip to Peoria this season.

Behind them are teams like IL#4 Geneva, IL#7 Dundee-Crown, IL#9 St. Charles North, IL#11 Conant, IL#12 Lincoln-Way Central and IL#13 Waubonsie Valley.  Each team will look to make a statement, hoping to prove they are a team to look out for all season long.  Class AA powers Belvidere, Sycamore and Kaneland are all in the mix in their race, while Burlington, Iowa and Fishers, Indiana are two of the better teams in their respective states and will travel to Peoria to take part in the invitational.

The second story of the day may perhaps end up being the top story. The individual race is loaded with talent. Pawola is an obvious front runner, but the rest of the story adds a little bit of an interesting twist to the tale. Top Illinois sophomore Anthony Manfrin (Dundee-Crown) and top Illinois freshman Lukas Verzbicas (Lincoln-Way Central) are both entered in the field, as is Midwest #3 ranked Drew Shields (Fishers, IN) from Indiana.  Click Here for Rest of Story (ILRunners.com)

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