UK Women and Henken Headed to NCAA Cross Country Championships
Nov. 15, 2008
CLEMMONS, N.C. - For the first time since an NCAA National Championship runner-up finish in1989, the University of Kentucky women's cross country team will be one of 31 teams competing for a national title. The Wildcats finished second overall at the NCAA Southeast Regional hosted by Wake Forest University to automatically qualify for the National Championship Meet in two weeks. Meanwhile, UK sophomore Adam Henken finished fifth overall to qualify for the Championships as an individual on the men's side.
The top two teams from each of the NCAA's nine regional sites secure bids to the National Championship meet hosted by Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind., on Mon. Nov. 24. Thirteen at-large squads selected by an NCAA selection committee join the 18 automatic-qualifying teams to compete for a national crown. Additionally, 36 individuals automatically qualify to the championships races on their own merits by being one of the top four regional finishers not on an advancing team.
The Wildcats were the only women's squad to finish all five scoring runners in the top 36 as two UK seniors earned All-Southeast Regional honors by finishing in the top 25. Virginia won the women's title with 105 points with three runners in the top 10. UK finished second with 126 points after placing fourth at the 2007 NCAA Southeast Regional. Kentucky is the only Southeastern Conference institution participating in the regional that is predominantly made up of teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Jessica Ortman placed 10th overall with a 6K time of 21:22 to continue her streak of leading the Wildcats across the finish line at each meet this season and 10 of 12 career races in the Blue and White. It is the second time Jessica Ortman has earned the regional accolades after winning her first award at the 2007 NCAA Southeast Regional. Jenna Ortman placed 15th overall to earn her first career regional medal with a mark of 21:29.
The remaining three scoring runners for Kentucky finished seconds apart from each other to secure the automatic team bid. Sophomore Katherine Peterson raced across the finish in 31st, clocking in at 21:51. Senior Andrea Halasek finished steps behind in 34th overall in a time of 21:53. But it was junior Lindsay Petri's personal-best 6K run of 21:57 in 36th place that sealed Kentucky's trip to the NCAA National Championships. The spread from UK runners one through five was a mere 31 seconds.
"Our top five women all put it together on the same day," said assistant track and field coach for distance and cross country John Mortimer. "All season, we've been on the cusp of running great. Today, all five ladies ran great."Kentucky sophomore Adam Henken also earned his first All-Southeast Regional honor by finishing fifth overall, less than two weeks after earning distinction as a member of the All-SEC Second Team. The Regional race measured 2,000 meters longer than the 8K conference course giving the Wildcat more time to move his way up through the field of 212 runners. Henken's time of 30:26 was a 73-second improvement over his mark at last year's regional. The Catharpin, Va., native has finished first on the team in five consecutive meets this season.
The last time any UK man competed in the NCAA Championship meet was in 2003 when the Wildcats qualified as a team.
"Henken ran like a veteran and executed the race plan perfectly," said Mortimer. "To finish in the top five of the region and qualify for the NCAAs is a huge accomplishment for a sophomore."
Three underclassmen finished in the Wildcat top five at the regional. Freshman John Luttrell finished second on the team for the Cats in the 50th position with a time of 32:07 for his best finish on the squad this season. Senior Bruce Hordusky was the third Wildcat across the line in 75th place with a 32:50 mark. First-year harrier Colin Heenan placed 94th overall clocking in at 33:09. The final scorer for the Cats was junior Jeremy Zagorski who has scored in each UK meet this season with a mark of 33:21 in the 107th slot.
The young UK men's squad finished 13th overall with 323 points after taking home 12th at the 2007 Southeast Regional. The College of William and Mary won the men's title.
The NCAA Championship Meet will be held at Indiana State's Wabash Valley Family Sports Center in Terre Haute, Ind., on Monday, Nov. 24. The women's 6k race will begin at 12:08 p.m. ET followed by the men's 10k race at 12:48 p.m. Admission is $5 per person, gates will open at 9:00 a.m. and no pets are allowed. Advance tickets can be ordered by calling (812) 237-3737.
Click UKathletics.com for cross country updates leading up to the NCAA National Championships in two weeks.