Nov. 11, 2011
STORRS, Conn. – The University of Connecticut women’s cross country team is set to compete in the 2011 NCAA East Regional Championships in Buffalo, N.Y. on Saturday, Nov. 12. The Huskies have had two weeks rest since capturing seventh at the BIG EAST Championship on October 29.
The Huskies, who were nationally recognized for the first time in program history with a 28th ranking on October 18, will compete against three current nationally ranked opponents in Providence (5), Syracuse (9) and Cornell (29).
“This is the weekend we have been focusing on all year. We have been working hard to make sure we are ready mentally and physically to be at our best this weekend. Our goal has always been to put ourselves in a position to receive an at-large bid into the NCAA Championships in Terra Haute, Ind. We know that an automatic bid out of our region is a little out of range this year with both Syracuse and Providence being ranked inside the Top 10 nationally and Providence having a chance at an NCAA title this year. I believe we will need to finish no worse than 4th in our region, something we are very capable of doing. After that, the rest is out of our control. We really won’t know where we stand until all the results are in from all the regions. Then it will be up to the selection committee. Having said that, I just want the team to walk away knowing they did everything they could do. We want to control our own destiny,” stated Head Coach Andrea Grove-McDonough.
The top two teams from each region earn an automatic bid into the National Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. on Monday, November 21. The rest of the 31-team field (13 at-large) will be announced on Sunday, no later than 7pm ET. The remaining teams are chosen by a selection committee with several factors carrying weight, including win-loss records and points accumulated against qualifying teams.
UConn is led by sophomore Lauren Sara who has been the top Husky in every meet she has ran in during the 2011 campaign. Most recently, she led the squad crossing the finish line 8th out of 138 runners in a season best 20:16.0 at the BIG EAST Championship. If UConn does not qualify, Sara will have an opportunity to compete as an individual as the top four runners not associated with a qualifying team earn a ticket to Terre Haute.
“Lauren Sara also has a great chance to qualify as an individual if the team fails to advance. Our region is so good individually that in order to be one of the top four individuals not on a qualifying team, I believe you will need to be among the top five period to make that happen. So Lauren has her hands full, but I would never bet against that kid. She's a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” finished Grove-McDonough.
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