Terps Head to NCAA Regionals
Nov. 11, 2011
PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - Team and individual berths to the NCAA Nationals will be on the line Saturday when the University of Maryland cross country teams participate in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals hosted by UMES.
The men's race begins at noon, with the women's race at 1:15 p.m.
Maryland comes into Saturday's race with an eye toward improving last year's results which had the men finishing 10th and the women 13th in the team standings.
"We're looking to an improvement from last year," said head coach Andrew Valmon. "The men will move up to a 10K for the regionals, but the course is familiar to us. It's relatively flat, which I feel will be good for us."
For the Terrapin women, junior Julie Fricke has had a breakout season. With her finish two weeks ago at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, she became the first Terrapin woman in 16 years to earn All-ACC honors.
"I think the key is that she's been healthy and she's running right now with a passion to excel," said Valmon. "She sees the moment as an opportunity to maybe qualify for nationals and to help our team move up. She's hungry right now."
Ashley Cromartie has been in the No. 2 spot for each of the last three races behind Fricket, while fellow senior Halsey Sinclair has also moved into a scoring spot for the Terps. Freshman Myah Hicks and junior Anna Roth have also been in the top five positions for Maryland late in the season.
Maryland's men have been led of late by freshman Kikanae Punyua, who has been in the Terps' top spot in each of the past two races.
"We're looking for Kikanae to get another solid race under his belt," said Valmon. "Noam (Neeman) has also put himself in position to place well. The men's team is going to continue to run as a strong pack."
The split time between the No. 1 and 5 runners for the Terrapins has been exceptionally low all season, with only one race showing more than a 51-second interval between first and fifth on the team.
The top two teams in each of nine regions across the nation automatically qualify for the NCAA National Championships, to be held Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind. On Sunday, the NCAA will determine 13 at-large teams that will be added to the field.
Individuals also qualify for the national championships by being one of the top four regional finishers not on an advancing team. Two additional individuals are selected at large by the committee.
In the past three seasons, Maryland has had individuals earn berths in the men's nationals, as Alex Lundy (2008, 2009) and Greg Kelsey (2010) have made the trip. No records are available on any Terrapin women who have achieved that feat in recent memory.
The top 25 finishers at the regionals earn All Mid-Atlantic Region status from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
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