Cross country runs to NCAA Regionals
Tyler Baker / The Daily Wildcat
Hanna Peterson (front left) runs in the Dave Murray Invitational on Sept. 20, in Tucson.
The Arizona men’s and women’s cross country teams will compete in the NCAA West Regional Championships today in Sacramento, Calif. The unbeaten No. 1 women’s team will take seven runners and one alternate to the meet, and the men’s team will take six runners.
For the women’s team, this regional meet is the last step toward national competition.
“Really, on the women’s side, the only goal heading into this race is to qualify for nationals,” said assistant coach Mo Huber. “In the big scheme of things, we have enough points to make it there. We can come in fifth [place] and still make it there. It’s just a matter of going out and being able to run conservatively.”
Elvin Kibet, Erin Menefee, Stephanie Bulder, Nicci Corbin, Hanna Peterson, Kayla Beattie and Maria Larsson will run for the women’s team. Molly Callahan will be the alternate. The top five out of the seven runners will be scored.
“It’s really a group effort,” Huber said. “Really, we’re going to count on our fifth runner, so it’s whether Hanna Peterson, Stephanie Bulder or Erin Menefee — every single role on the team is important, so it’s not just one particular person that will make or break the team.”
The Arizona teams will face Oregon, Washington, San Francisco, Stanford, Boise State and ASU, among others.
“It’s just a ranking, and going into this weekend, I think the girls just want to go and get the job done,” Huber said. “Go and qualify for nationals, and that’s the goal: looking ahead and seeing what they can do Nov. 23.”
Corbin said that the team will focus on the race at hand, but that making it to nationals would be ideal.
“We’ll just go out there and have a good race and have some fun and keep nationals in mind,” Corbin said.
Running for the men’s team will be Kenji Bierig, Sam Macaluso, Thomas Valente, Dylan Hopper, Jonas Legernes and Collins Kibet.
“On the men’s side, it’s a little bit different, because they don’t have enough points to qualify for nationals,” Huber said. “This will be a good opportunity for them to go against some great teams and hopefully sneak in.”
The men’s team is ranked No. 14 in the NCAA West Region and faces a tough conference with five men’s Pac-12 teams holding a spot in the national poll, including three top-10 teams. Colorado holds the No. 1 spot in the country, with Oregon holding No. 4 and Stanford rising to the No. 6 slot.
The NCAA Championships will begin on Nov. 23 in Terra Haute, Ind.
— Follow Brittney Smith @BrittSmith14