On Monday I previewed the men’s teams at the upcoming NCAA Great Lakes Regional cross country championships. Today I look at the women’s teams.
To review, this is the qualifying round for the NCAA Championships, to be held in Terre Haute on Monday, November 21. The first two teams will automatically qualify, and at-large qualifiers will be announced on Sunday.
#12 Michigan State
4) Roy Griak Invitational
9) adidas Invitational
1) Big Ten Championships
Key Runners: Julia Otwell, Sara Kroll, Carlie Green, Rebekah Smeltzer, Rachel McFarlane
1) Greater Louisville Classic
2) Big Ten Championships
Key Runners: Danielle Tauro, Rebecca Addison, Jillian Smith, Taylor Pogue, Mary Grace Pellegrini
While these two in-state rivals are very closely matched, and each is capable of beating the other, they look fairly safe for getting the two automatic qualifying spots. None of the other teams here have been close to either Michigan or Michigan State so far this year. And if either falls to third or fourth, they’ve still got the wins necessary to get to Terre Haute.
#24 Notre Dame
5) Notre Dame Invitational
15) adidas Invitational
6) Big East Championships
Key Runners: Jessica Rydberg, Susann Sullivan, Alexa Aragon, Rebecca Tracy, Rachel Velarde, Molly Hirt
12) Roy Griak Invitational
2) Bill Dellinger Invitational
21) adidas Invitational
4) Big Ten Championships
Key Runners: Caitlin Comfort, Ashely Beutler, Kyla Chapman, Gabi Anzalone, Hanna Knurr
Due to regular-season records, Notre Dame is in a much better position for getting an at-large bid than Wisconsin. If the Badgers beat the Fighting Irish, then they’re probably in; if not, they have to beat everyone else and hope things turn out right in the other regions.
5) Inter-Regional Bubble Buster
12) Notre Dame Invitational
35) adidas Invitational
1) Mid-American Championships
Key Runners: Ari Fisher, Emma Kertesz, Kaylin Belair, Megan Vogelsong, Kristal Studer
7) Inter-Regional Bubble Buster
13) Notre Dame Invitational
38) adidas Invitational
9) Big Ten Championships
Key Runners: Tori Brink, Jordan Jennewine, Nicole Hilton
3) Notre Dame Invitational B-race
2) Mid-American Championships
None of these teams have wins over a team likely to qualify to nationals. To get there, they need to beat another team that qualifies and get a “push”. It’s unlikely for Ohio State or Central Michigan, but strange things can and do happen; two years ago the Buckeyes were eighth at the Big Ten and then took second at the regional to punch their first-ever ticket to the NCAA Championships.
Toledo has a better chance than the others for many reasons, not the least of which is the return of Ari Fisher. 26th at last year’s NCAA Championships, she missed the entire regular season with injury; her first race was the MAC Championships, where she was third. Improvement from that is likely. Teammate Emma Kertesz, runner-up in the MAC, is a Toledo native and knows the course from her high school days-and, of course, the entire team has been practicing on the course for weeks, and will be sleeping in their own beds and eating in their own cafeterias and kitchens. I still think it’s an uphill battle, but anything can happen.