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With the third annual Wisconsin Adidas Invitational coming to the Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course on Friday, head coach Jim Stintzi and the Wisconsin women’s cross country team are looking forward to gaining large race experience before the Big Ten and NCAA championships.There will be 37 men’s teams, 41 women’s teams and a total of 878 athletes participating Friday – including 19 of the top 30 men’s teams in the country and 18 of the top 30 women’s teams.“We’re expecting what’s arguably the best meet in the country outside the NCAA championships this week in Madison,” Stintzi said in his weekly Monday press conference. “We think it will be a great test and are excited about the prospects. When we built the course, the idea was really to have a meet like this, to have one of the better meets in the country … it’s become kind of a phenomenon.”Since the event was started in 2009, the amount of participating teams has grown every year, including an increase of almost 60 teams from the 2010 Invitational. This year, the event is taking place at the same time as the pre-NCAA championships, which many teams traditionally attend to race on the championship course before November’s NCAA Championships. At the urging of Stintzi and men’s coach Mick Byrne, teams decided to come to the Adidas Invitational instead.Because of the stature of the invitational, many coaches, including Stintzi, are still using this weekend to prepare their teams for the NCAA championships. According to Stintzi, running in a race with as many people as will be running on Friday is often more challenging than running in a pack of 100, which is standard for events such as the Big Ten Championships.“The issue is it’s difficult for the athletes to know where they are in a field this size,” Stintzi said. “When [there are] almost 300 people in the race, there’s a tendency for kids to think they’re in 40th and they’re actually in 90th. My team, especially, needs to kind of get that experience and learn where exactly they are and then move up or maintain their position.”Unlike the Adidas Invitational and NCAA Championships, the UW-Oshkosh Open and Big Ten Championships will not have fields comprised of more than a little over 100 runners. Still, the experience gained from running against some of the best competition in the country figures to lead to success in smaller races, as well.“In a sense, it will definitely get our feet wet because it’s going to be great competition, but we’ll have to take a little bit different tactic in terms of how we race,” Stintzi said.Freshman Gabrielle Anzalone led the Badgers into the Adidas Invitational. The Grand Blanc, Mich., native started her UW career with a win at the Badger Opener on Sept. 9th. After finishing 42nd at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Anzalone was named Big Ten Women’s Runner of the Week following her ninth-place finish at the Bill Dellinger Invitational two weeks ago, an event where the Badgers finished 2nd as a team.“[Gabrielle] was one of the top cross country kids in the country last year in high school,” Stintzi said. “[She is] somebody that just kind of fit into our program, loved Wisconsin right off the bat. We love her, she has got a great attitude, really a team player.“Sort of a high-level kid without some of the high-level issues you might get with some kids. I think she’s going to be somebody who is just going to continue to get better and better. I see big things for her.”