By Jacob Most
Nov. 14, 2013 -
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Bids to the National Championship Meet will be on the line when the Kentucky cross country teams race at the NCAA Southeast Regional at Virginia’s Panorama Farms course on Friday.
The men's 10,000-meter race is scheduled to start at noon, and it will be followed by the women's 6k race at 1:15 p.m. Admission is free.
The UK men’s team will race at 10K for the first time this season, while Friday’s meet will mark the women’s team’s third 6K meet of the season.
The top-two teams and top-four individuals at each of the nine regional meets will automatically advance to the NCAA Championships to be held in Terre Haute, Ind., on Saturday, Nov. 23. Thirteen teams will also earn at-large bids, to be announced on Saturday, Nov. 16.
UK has not qualified for the NCAA Championships as a team since the women’s team did so in 2008. Three Wildcats, including returner Cally Macumber, earned individual bids to the National Championship meet last season.
The Kentucky women’s team enters the meet having received votes in the United States Trand & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) national poll for the first time all season in the most recent rankings.
The host Virginia women enter the meet as the highest ranked team in the region and are the No. 11 team nationally. William & Mary and Duke, ranked No. 19 and No. 28 nationally, respectively are the next highest rated teams. Kentucky, NC State, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Louisville, Eastern Kentucky and Wake Forest round out the regional top 10 entering the meet, which features 42 teams.
The UK men’s team will have multiple nationally-ranked teams to contend with, led by No. 17 Eastern Kentucky and No. 18 North Carolina. Virginia, Virginia Tech, Duke, Louisville, NC State, Furman, William & Mary and Liberty round out the top 10 of the regional rankings. Kentucky is rated No. 11 in the regional, and Friday's meet will feature athletes from 40 schools.
The UK women’s team is coming off a third place performance at the SEC Championships, having earned its highest conference meet placement since coming in second at the 2002 meet. The UK women placed fifth at the SEC Championships last year.
The men’s team battled to place fifth overall at SEC’s, which was one spot better than the previous season.
Kentucky enters Regionals led by Macumber, who will look to defend the title she won a year ago at the same meet. Macumber has enjoyed a strong 2013 campaign, having recently been named First Team All-SEC for the second straight season.
Macumber placed seventh at the SEC Championships with a time of 20:35.82. She has won two meets this season and placed inside the top-10 at every race she has competed in during the 2013 cross country season.
Matt Hillenbrand picked up Second-Team All-SEC honors as he finished 12th overall in 24:17.19 at SECs. He has now earned All-SEC honors in three straight seasons taking into account the 2013 indoor and outdoor track and field seasons.
Cassidy Hale was a SEC All-Freshman Team selection, as she was the No. 5 first-year runner to cross the finish line at the conference meet, 26th overall in 21:22.42. The newcomer has adjusted nicely to collegiate competition in 2013 having also produced top-30 performances, at the Bluegrass Invitational and Cowboy Jamboree earlier this season.
Macumber, Allison Peare and Anna Bostrom were all All-Southeast Region selections last year.
The official meet Website, which features a link to live results and course maps, is available here: http://www.virginiasports.com/sports/c-xctrack/NCAARegional13.html.