Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Pullman, Wash.)
|XC rolls into West Regionals|
MOSCOW, Idaho – One Vandal has hopes of a repeat, another one wants to break through and both Idaho men’s and women’s cross country teams want to prove themselves among the West region on Friday.
The Vandal men and women will be in Seattle, Wash., on Friday afternoon for the NCAA West Region Cross Country Championships, where national bids and regional bragging rights will be on the line.
For junior Hannah Kiser of Wenatchee, Wash., a 2011 NCAA Championships qualifier and U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-West Region honoree, a repeat trip to the national meet and the associated history is the primary goal. No Vandal woman has ever qualified for the NCAA cross country meet in consecutive seasons.
“My plan is to go out with the top runners, and I know I’m more fit than last year, so the plan will be to try to stick with them,” Kiser said. “Over the final 1k, it’s about listening to Coach Phipps and knowing where the other top individuals are to try to make sure I finish ahead of them.”
For senior Barry Britt of Hampton, New Brunswick, a 2010 USTFCCCA All-West Region selection who has come up just short of a national bid the last two seasons, it’s his last shot to become Idaho’s first men’s cross country NCAA qualifier since 1939.
“I think I’ve done all the work I have to do to be a national qualifier as far as mileage and workouts and the stuff outside of races, and now I just have to put it all together,” Britt said. “I’m going need that perfect race to get out of the West, because it’s just so deep and there are a ton of talented guys.”
Kiser took 18th at last year’s NCAA West Regional, while Britt was 30th on the men’s side. Britt took 23rd as a sophomore in 2010 to earn the first men’s All-Region honor since 2002. If either Vandal wants to extend the season into mid-November, at least a top-25 finish will be necessary.
It’s just about two individuals, though. Kiser’s and Britt’s performances will be key for two teams looking to climb in the West Region.
Both teams started the season ranked in the West Region Top 15 by the USTFCCCA, but dropped out early in the season and haven’t been back since, despite Idaho’s women claiming the Western Athletic Conference title two weeks ago at Ruston, La.
“The WAC Championships were never the finish line – that meet was always one goal along the way,” junior Alycia Butterworth said. “My goal for the team is to place in the top 15, because we haven’t really been ranked. I think we’re good enough to be there and we can show that we should have been there this year.”
For any individual or team in the West Region, a high finish is something worth praise. In the most recent USTFCCCA National Coaches’ Poll, five of the nation’s top 27 men’s teams hail from the West, including No. 3 Stanford and No. 9 Portland.
The women’s field in the West is even deeper. Four of the nation’s top seven teams, No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Arizona, No. 5 Stanford and No. 7 Washington, run in the West Region, which makes Friday’s meet a good NCAA Championships preview and also means that national bids will be tough to come by.
The women’s 6000-meter race starts at Noon (PT), while the men’s 10,000-meter race follows at 1:15 p.m. (PT). Both races will be held at Seattle’s Jefferson Park Golf Course. The top five teams in each region qualify for the NCAA Championships, as do the top four individuals not affiliated with an auto-qualifying team.