Teams and individuals finally set for Terre Haute.
The eyes of running fans turned to the NCAA cross country regional championships that took place across the country Saturday and were treated to some wild action. There were plenty of surprises as teams finally raced at full strength and the puzzle pieces fell into place to set up the field for the national championship to take place November 23rd in Terre Haute, Ind.
Here are the top highlights from the regional championship festivities:
- West Regional Domination: #1 Stanford men proved they are the class of the NCAA this year, as they made a mockery of the other teams in their region. The Cardinal went 1-3, led by Chris Derrick, and placed five runners in the top 12. #7 Portland made a big statement as they outdistanced #3 Oregon by 25 points to take second place. On the women’s side, #1 Washington took the title, and in an equally dominating display, winning by 41 points over #5 Oregon. The Lady Ducks took the coveted second qualifying position, and were led by Freshman sensation Jordan Hasay, who placed a close second to the Huskies’ Kendra Schaff.
- Oklahoma State Arrives: If Oklahoma State proved anything, it is that they are amazing at pack running. The #2 Cowboys didn’t place their first runner until 9th but went 9-14, and 16 to boot, to easily capture the Midwest regional title. The split between one and seven was a mere 4 seconds – not too shabby. What can the Cowpokes do when they run full throttle? Let’s put it this way: Stanford shouldn’t make space on their trophy shelf quite yet.
- Chelanga Dominates: No suprise here, but Liberty’s Sam Chelanga is a favorite for the individual title. Chelanga won the southeast regional by an impressive 30 seconds and looks primed to contend for the national title. He finished second last year, to Oregon’s Galen Rupp, in an exciting sprint finish.
- Barringer Finally Wins: After a four-year wait, Colorado’s Jenny Barringer took home a regional title. To make things a little sweeter, she also led the Lady Buff’s to the team title. Barringer only won by 12 seconds, but don’t expect her to be that close to anyone in Terre Haute. She clearly held back and is preparing for something very special at the national championships.
- Aussie McNeil Ready: Think the men’s national championship will be a two-horse race between Sam Chelanga and Chris Derrick? Think again, as Northern Arizona’s David McNeil took the mountain regional title with an impressive and promising performance. McNeil took Galen Rupp to the line in the 5000m at the 2009 NCAA outdoor championships, beating Chris Derrick in the process. Don’t count this Aussie out in Terre Haute; he is ready to roll. His #4 Lumberjacks didn’t fare quite as well, finishing a disappointing fourth in the team battle.
- Great Lakes Surprises: The Great Lakes region saw some big surprises, and crumbles, as #10 Wisconsin men, not so surprisingly, took the team title and unranked Michigan Sate took the runner-up spot. The Spartans didn’t even get a vote in the latest national poll and upset the likes of #26 Butler and #28 Ohio State. Butler finished a distant 5th, likely keeping them from an at-large bid. On the women’s side, 11 points separated the top four places. Unranked Notre Dame and Ohio State took the automatic qualifying spots, leaving #23 Michigan with their fingers crossed for an at-large bid. #26 Michigan State finished a disappointing 5th, behind three unranked teams.
For a full list of qualified teams click here: 2009 NCAA Division One Cross Country Qualifiers