This Friday, the No. 16 women’s and No. 20 men’s Washington cross country teams will compete in the 2017 NCAA Western Regionals. The UW hosts this year, with the race held at the Jefferson Park Golf Course here in Seattle.
The team heads to the regionals after a fourth place finish for the women and a fifth place finish for the men at the Pac-12 Championships in Oregon. Senior Amy-Eloise Neale was Washington’s top finisher in third, only two seconds behind the winner, while junior Mahmoud Moussa placed highest for the men in fifth.
On Friday, 40 schools will compete to advance to the NCAA Championships. This includes 10 teams from the Pac-12, along with competitors from Mountain West, Big West, WAC, West Coast, and Big Sky divisions. The women will race a 6K as usual, but the men will be running their first 10K of the year.
For both races, the Western division is one of the most competitive divisions in the country. The women’s field will include No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 San Francisco, No. 7 Stanford, and No. 10 Boise State. The men will race against No. 4 Stanford, No. 6 Portland, No. 10 UCLA, and No. 13 Oregon, as well as Boise State and Washington State, who just missed out on top-25 rankings.
Washington head coach Greg Metcalf is extremely excited to be hosting the event.
“It is awesome for our kids, our track and field teams, our alums, the city of Seattle, cross country fans, and high school cross country runners,” he said. “Fans will get a chance to watch some of the nation’s premier regional cross country championships compete right here in Seattle. Most importantly though, there are people here who are rooting for us and cheering us on. It makes enough of a difference that I think it helps our kids run better.”
When asked about what he wants to see from his runners though, Metcalf only had one response.
“The only goal of the regional championships is to do whatever it takes to qualify for the NCAA Championships eight days later,” he said.
There are a couple of ways to make it to the aforementioned championships. There will be 31 teams who are able to participate in Louisville. Eighteen of those spots will be reserved for the first and second place teams from each of the nine regionals. After that, teams will be awarded points for each time they finished above automatic qualifiers in races throughout the season, either from their own regional or another. These points help determine who will fill out the remaining 13 spots which are called at-large bids.
Additionally, 38 individuals from each gender will qualify who are not part of squads that won team bids. These athletes must have finished in the top-25 at their regional. The first four to finish earn these spots automatically, while the rest are filled out from a national pool. Nevertheless, all the individuals must have finished in the top-25 but not be part of teams that qualified. If there are no runners who meet this criteria, then they will take fewer than 38 individuals.
The women’s race will start at 10:30 a.m. Friday, and the men will get underway at 11:30 a.m.
Reach contributing writer Andy Yamashita at email@example.com Twitter: @ANYamashita