Nine regional races Friday will determine 18 of the 31 available spots for next week’s NCAA championships in Louisville, Ky. The UW will host the west regional at Jefferson Park Golf Course on Friday, with the women’s race beginning at noon and the men’s race beginning at 1 p.m.
Coming into the race, the women and men are nationally ranked 12th and 17th, respectively, and are ranked fourth and third in the region.
“Each week we have just gotten stronger as a team and pushed each other, knowing that we are all in this together,” junior Kaylee Flanagan said. “From the cross country camp in August, we have [fed] off each other’s energy in getting ready for the big stage.”
Eight women are signed up for the race, despite only seven spots available to run, as the official lineup is expected to be a race-time decision. They include All-Pac-12 First Team member Maddie Meyers, fellow seniors Eleanor Fulton and Jenna Saunders, Flanagan, sophomores Katie Knight and Anna Maxwell, and freshmen Charlotte Prouse and Emily Hamlin.
The men will run their usual top finishers with seniors Izaic Yorks and Tyler King, sophomores Fred Huxham, Andrew Gardner, Colby Gilbert, and Johnathan Stevens, and redshirt freshman Mahmoud Moussa. Yorks, who finished in third place at the Pac-12 meet two weeks ago, was also named to All-Pac-12 First Team.
“[Head coach Greg] Metcalf tells us to bring the best of us every day,” Yorks said. “If we bring that normal performance we are all very capable of having each meet, then we will meet the goals that we set out at the beginning of the season.”
With multiple wins over teams who are likely automatic qualifiers, both UW teams appear to be in good position to qualify for nationals as long as they maintain the same high level of performance they have had all season.
“Our job as a team is to control the controllables,” Metcalf said. “The region is very competitive and while we could finish in the top two, our body of work from the fall puts us in a great spot to earn that at-large bid if needed.”
Reach reporter Aaron Huang at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @Aaron_C_Huang