The CWRU men’s and women’s cross country teams better pack their warm clothes as they head north to compete in the 2010 NCAA DIII Great Lakes Regional Championships tomorrow. On Saturday Nov. 13, Hope College in Holland, Michigan will be hosting dozens of schools in the Great Lakes Region as they compete for a chance to go to the National Championships.
The Regional Championships occur every year before the national meet. It is used as a qualifier race. One of eight regions in the nation, the Great Lakes Region is comprised of all the Division III schools in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.
There are two ways gain a berth at Nationals, an automatic bid and an at-large bid. A team can get an auto bid by finishing in the top-2 in the Regional championships. This makes for 16 teams out of the 32 teams. The other half is chosen through an at large selection process. By finishing in the top 5 at Regionals, a team can earn consideration for an at large bid. The NCAA then makes selections the next day on who will be competing at Nationals.
This year, both the men and women’s teams have a shot at making it to the national meet in Waverly, Iowa. The U.S. Cross Country Track and Field Coaches Association ranks both the teams at No. 4 in the region. The men’s team trails No. 1 Calvin College, No. 2 Albion College and No. 3 Wabash College. The women are ranked behind No. 1 Calvin College, No. 2 Hope College, and No. 3 Ohio Northern University.
The Calvin men’s team is ranked No. 4 in the nation, and are the consensus favorite to win the Great Lakes Regional. That leaves open one more automatic ticket. Albion, Wabash, and CWRU all have a clean shot at the last bid.
“The goal before we even set our feet on XC turf is always continuous. Gain a national berth. Some years we are closer than others, but we are so close I can taste the turf in Waverly, IA. That is the kind of race it will be at Hope,” stated head coach Kathy Lanese.
The Spartans raced against Albion and Wabash earlier in the season, at the Oberlin Inter Regional Rumble on Oct. 16. Both schools came out of nowhere to defeat the Spartans. Albion scored 188 and Wabash scored 193, compared to CWRU’s total of 199 points.
The Spartans will be aiming to race competitively against Wabash and Albion. While the men’s team will probably still be in the running for an at large bid, the auto bid is an important team goal
“We missed out on qualifying to Nationals by one place when we finished in 5th last year, while Mount Union earned an at-large bid by finishing 4th at last year’s Regionals,” said senior David Carter
The women’s team must also race competitively against the teams ranked ahead of them. Both Calvin and Hope are ranked among the top 10 in the nation, and have been running well all year. They seem to be set a little bit ahead of the Polar Bears of Ohio Northern University and CWRU. ONU handily won their conference meet last week, but the Spartans should be able to match up very well against the Polar Bears.
“Calvin, Hope, and Ohio Northern are the ones we will be focusing on as we try to run our best race in hopes of qualifying for the National Championship in Waverly, Iowa,” said senior Justine Jeroski.
CWRU has been ranked nationally all year, and due to the weakness of other regions, the Great Lakes can expect at least 2 at large bids.
Senior Robert Ontko spoke on behalf of both the men’s and women’s squad when stating on of the teams season long goals “One word: Iowa.”