Early Ideas on Who Heads to NCAAs

A calculator and sums on paper

Since they needed something to do in the middle of the week, Flotrack announced who the NCAA qualifying teams would be IF the selection was based on the season performance as of 10/8/15.

NCAA qualification has been decided the last few years by a combination of the Regional Meet results and the team’s performance against the competition during the regular season.  Here’s how the USTFCCCA summaries how the selection is made:

A total of 31 teams compete as a team at the NCAA D-I Championships. 18 bids are automatic (top two teams in each region), 13 bids are at-large.

At-large selection: The process for selection involves a review of regular-season competition and finish at the regional championships. Regional finish is the first criterion, for example, a fourth-place team may not be selected for an at-large berth ahead of a third-place team from the same region. But, a team with a fourth-place finish, for example, could “push” both the third- and fourth-place finishing team into the championships if the fourth-place team has enough “wins” to be the next at-large team. Wins from the regular-season are only counted if squads beat another’s “A” team, defined by having competed four or more individuals in that regular-season meet that competed at the regional championships. Official designations of “A” and “B” teams can only be accomplished after the results of the NCAA regional meets have been completed. Also, only competitions starting September 25 through regional meet weekend are included in the analysis.

Typically, the Kolas Calculator is applied for the at-large berth determination.  A team can earn what is called “Kolas points” during the regular season if they beat other national caliber squads – especially against some of the top competition from their region – at major competitions between the time frame of September 25th to Regionals on November 13th (i.e. Battle in Beantown, Paul Short, Pre-Nationals, Wisconsin adidas, Notre Dame, conference championships).

So yes, the Heps Cross Country Championships can play a big role in NCAA selection as eight squads are either nationally ranked or receiving votes on national polls, and all but two squads are currently ranked in the top 10 of their respective regions.  It will be a great battle to witness *hint hint* how about you come to watch? *hint hint*

But anyways, who does Flotrack think has made the cut for NCAAs right now?  They assumed the Regional Meet finish is the same as the Regional rankings announced by USTFCCCA on 10/6, with the regional #1 and 2s getting the auto berths.

According to their calculations, a total of five Heps squads will make the cut.  For the men, Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell, and Princeton all make the cut.  Dartmouth and Cornell both got wins against Florida State (South #2) at the Battle in Beantown.  Because they are ranked #4 and 5 in the Northeast Region, they push in Columbia who sits at #3 in the same region.  Princeton is ranked #3 in their region.  Meanwhile, the Princeton women are the only women team qualifier by nature of their #3 regional ranking.  Even though they won their Inter-Regional Meet this past weekend, they did not best any teams who might have secured an auto berth in their respective regions, hence the “0 wins” but this win did help their national and regional ranking so it was not worthless.

It should be noted that it is not unprecedented to have at least four Ivy team qualifiers in a given championships. In 2013, four men squads competed at NCAAs in Terre Haute, Ind.  Five women teams qualified back in 2001 to Greenville, S.C., which is the conference record across both genders.

Individual NCAA qualifiers are selected from the Regional Meet finishers who are not on NCAA qualifying teams, so it is harder to predict who will be selected from this pool.  Most of the time, you could assume that if you finish as one of the top 10 individuals within a region that you would be selected.  Sometimes, the selection can go deeper than that.  In 2013, then-freshman Cleo Whiting of Penn was selected as an individual qualifier from the Mid-Atlantic Region after finishing 23rd, making her the last qualifier out of this region.  I’m not sure if we had lower finishers that ever made the individual cut (feel free to email me to let me know if we did) but it goes to show on how hard it can be to predict as Regionals can bring out the best in athletes.  But if I were to guess now on some potential qualifiers, I’d say some of our HepsXC individual title contenders who are not on one of the teams previously discussed – Penn’s Thomas Awad, Yale’s Kevin Dooney, Cornell’s Taylor Spillane, Dartmouth’s Dana Giordano, Harvard’s Courtney Smith, Brown’s Natalie Schudrowitz just to name a few.  Awad, Dooney, and Giordano have previously competed at NCAAs for cross country.

The next major weekend for qualification will be on 10/16 and 10/17 where the squads will be flocking to either the Wisconsin adidas Invitational or the Pre-Nationals Meet.  Hopefully this will change the qualification status for HepsNation for the better.

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