Last year was an exceptional year for HepsNation in cross country – four teams, five individuals, and six graduates (total of 40 individuals) all qualified for the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championship meet. It is quite possible that more than 40 athletes will earn their right on Friday to go dancing in Terre Haute, Ind. next week. Going into this weekend, there are seven Ivy squads with national rankings, and another two who are receiving votes in the national polls. I’d say the odds are in HepsNation favor, no? But hey, that is why they run the race.
So how do the XC Regionals work? The top two teams at 9 regional races will earn an automatic berth to the Championship, slated for Nov. 23 at the Lavern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute. Thirteen other teams (each gender) will receive ‘at-large’ spots to the national championship. Additionally, the top four runners from each region who are not on a team that qualified for nationals will run for the individual title in Terre Haute as well. The at-large and individual spots will be announced on Friday night through the Kolas Calculator.
The Northeast Regional meet will be hosted by Manhattan College at the famed Van Cortlandt Park (Bronx, N.Y.), as Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, and Yale will make their cases to go to the Big Dance. The men will be up first with their 10-km championship starting at 11:45 am and it will answer the question “who is the best team of NYC: No. 7 Iona or No. 8 Columbia?” Columbia earned an auto bid last year by placing 2nd at the Regional (behind Iona), but we are sure they are aiming for the team title this Friday. No. 26 Dartmouth and Harvard will be battling the other highly ranked squads No. 14 Syracuse and No. 21 Providence for the at-large bids. Even if Harvard does not get a team bid to Terre Haute, Maksim Korolev and James Leakos (if back to full health) are hoping to return to Nationals for their final attempt on an All-American accolade for cross country. The favorites on the women’s 6-km race include No. 12 Dartmouth (for earning an auto berth) and Abbey D’Agostino (for defending her Regional individual title). D’Agostino is looking to help carry the Big Green to their first trip to NCAAs since 2001. While the No. 2 Providence are aimed to secure the other auto spot, Dartmouth will need to keep an eye on the other ranked or receiving votes Northeast women’s teams: No. 19 Syracuse, No. 23 Cornell, No. 27 Harvard, Boston College and Columbia. Both Cornell and Harvard earned team at-large bids last year after placing 3rd (Cornell) and tied for 4th (Harvard). The women’s 6-km Northeast championship race will begin at 1 pm.
Meanwhile, Princeton and Penn will return to Lehigh University to compete at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Meet. These races will start a little later than their Northeast counterparts – the men’s 10-km will start at noon, while the women’s 6-km will start at 1:15pm. Going into this meet, the No. 15 Princeton men are the team to beat at this Regional as they are the highest ranked squad. The Princeton men qualified as a team last year by earning an at-large bid after a 3rd place Regional finish. Meanwhile, the No. 22 Princeton women could have a tougher challenge in securing an auto team berth due to the strength in their region as they will be contending against No. 4 Georgetown, Villanova, Penn State, and West Virginia.
As of this time, there is no word on if there is any live coverage or online viewing of these races. More than likely, turn to Twitter to find any updates on the races. If we hear anything or can confirm any additional information on how to follow these races, we will let you know on Friday morning before the races start.