Well, it’s Sunday. Selection Sunday that is. No, I’m not talking about basketball. There is just as much of a science in selecting the field for the NCAA Cross Country Championships as there is for basketball. Today, it’s all about cross country and the 31 teams who will be making the trek to Terre Haute, Indiana in just about a week.
Penn State was in Princess Anne, Maryland on Saturday for the Mid-Atlantic Regional meet. Going into the meet, both squads were ranked 4th in the region and that is just how they finished.
The distance of the men’s race increases from 8K to 10K for the final two races of the season – regionals and nationals. The race was won by Donn Cabral of Princeton in 30:30. Cabral was closely followed by Iona transfer Ryan Sheridan of Villanova (30:38) and Alex Lundy of Georgetown (30:40). See complete results here.
The women’s race was won in 21:32 by defending NCAA Champ Sheila Reid of Villanova who was followed closely by Georgetown’s Emily Infeld (21:34). Both are putting together great seasons and are setting themselves up for a great race at nationals. See complete results here.
The men ran a strong race, with 3 of the Nittany Lions top 5 runners (Seniors Vince McNally and Owen and Kyle Dawson) making the All-Region team. Kyle and McNally’s stellar times (30:47 and 30:50 respectively) earned them a trip to NCAA’s individually (Dawson was 9th and McNally 11th in the field of 183). Unfortunately for the rest of the Penn State squad, Saturday marked the end of the season.
On the women’s side, the team kept its season alive by securing an at-large bid to the big dance next Monday. The ladies were led once again by senior captains Caitlin Lane in 6th place (21:40) and Kara Millhouse in 11th (22:04). Junior teammates Brooklyne Ridder and Natalie Bower also received All-Region honors. Just missing the All-Region team was sophomore Emily Giannotti. The women look to improve upon last year’s 26th place team finish at NCAA’s. Look for Caitlin Lane to continue o lead the lady lions and chase down an All-American finish, a goal she set for herself at the beginning of the season.
Around the Big Ten
Men: Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio State will all be running next week in Indiana. The Big Ten is not normally known for it’s strength in XC, but wow. To send five teams speaks volumes about the depth of the conference this year. You have to think that Wisconsin is the team to beat at Nationals. Currently ranked first in the nation, the Badgers don’t have one clear front runner, but rather they have one of the tightest packs in the country. At their home invite earlier this season, the men won with just a 2 second spread between their first and fifth runners. It is going to be tough to bet against them in Terre Haute.
Individually, aside from McNally and Dawson, Iowa will send Jeff Thode and Illinois will send Jim Riddle and Jordan Herbert to nationals. The conference should have a good showing next Monday.
Women: Just like the men, the Big Ten is sending five teams. Penn State will be joined by Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Having around 16% of the championship field comprised of Big Ten runners is a huge credit to the powerhouse conference that it is quickly becoming.
Individually, Ohio State will their top two runners: Junior Tori Brink and freshman Nichole Hilton.
National Quick Hits
Men: Oregon did not make the NCAA meet as a team. Yes, you are reading this correctly. However, it goes without saying that they were in one of the toughest regions. The west is stacked. It also didn't help that one of the their top runners, freshman Lukas Verzbikas, just quit college and is going to pursue a career as a professional triathlete. Last years NCAA third place individual finisher Luke Puskedra was the lone male Duck to qualify for the meet. Stanford and Portland ran strong. Colorado lost to BYU in the Mountain Region. Look for those teams to contend with Wisconsin and Oklahoma State next week.
Women: Jordan Hasay is back. After finishing 3rd at the Pac 12 Championships, the Oregon Junior won the west region by a large margin. She should contend Sheila Reid for the title in Indiana. Also, Providence University, who had an amazing year, did not make the national meet. Sophomore standout Emily Sisson did not race and junior front runner Shelby Greany finished 4th on the team. The 5th place team finish in the northeast Region came as a surprise to say the least.
Tune into the Nittany Lions Den later this week for a complete preview of both national championship races!
*Photo Credit: The Associated Press