Terps Seek Fast Start at NCAA Regionals

Maryland Athletics
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BETHLEHEM, Pa. – In cross country, all roads seem to lead to the same place. Those vital races at the end of the season are set up by the workouts, early events and lessons learned the months before.

For the University of Maryland cross country team, a lesson learned two weeks ago will hopefully put the Terrapins on track to achieve a goal set early in the season.

Maryland will compete Friday in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship, hosted by Lehigh. The Terrapins ran on the same course at the Lehigh Paul Short Run on Oct. 5.

The 6-kilometer women’s race gets the gun at 1:15 p.m.

The Terrapins will seek some redemption from a 14th-place finish two weeks ago at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships. Maryland went out too slow, according to distance coach Matt Jelley, and a rally for positions over the final 2,000 kilometers fell short of the pre-race plan.

“I think we want to prove ourselves after what happened at the ACCs,” said Jelley. “We’ve been working on some things we feel we did wrong.

“We feel like this team should be ranked in the top 15 in the region. We got knocked out of the rankings about a month ago, and we want to take this opportunity to get back up there.”

Workouts over the past couple weeks have been designed to get the Terrapins started a bit earlier on Friday.

“We’ve gone a little faster and a little longer,” said Jelley. “We know what we did wrong and we don’t want to make the same mistake twice.”

Familiarity with the course will help Maryland’s three seniors.

“We’ve run this course a bunch,” said Jelley. “The freshmen ran earlier this season, but Lehigh hosts a lot of meets and the seniors have run here five or six times. It’s relatively flat and relatively flat. We’re looking forward to some good times.”

Senior Becky Yep was Maryland’s top finisher at the ACCs. Fellow seniors Bridget Nolan and Julie Sinkovitz will join junior Myah Hicks to give the Terps a veteran core at the front of the lineup.

Sinkovitz and Hicks are extending themselves out of their comfort zone, as each holds a place in Maryland’s all-time top-10 at 800 meters.

Sophomore Catherine Sheffo moved up to the No. 5 spot at the ACC Championship.

Maryland finished 13th as a team at last year’s regionals.

The top two teams earn automatic bids to the NCAA Division I Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 23. There will be 13 teams from around the nation who hope to earn at-large bids to nationals.

The top four finishers at each regional who are not on a qualifying team will earn individual invitations to nationals.

The women’s Mid-Atlantic Regional field includes four nationally ranked teams. Georgetown (No. 4 nationally) will battle Princeton (22nd), West Virginia (24th) and Penn State (30th) for berths to nationals.