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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UA cross-country teams headed to NCAA regionals

Arizona+cross-country+redshirt+senior+Kristina+Aubert+crosses+the+finish+line%2C+winning+first+place+in+the+three-mile+race+with+a+time+of+16%3A40.00+on+Sept.+19+during+the+Dave+Murray+Invitationatl+at+Dell+Urich+Golf+Course.+Both+mens+and+womens+cross-country+teams+have+a+tough+road+ahead+to+earn+a+team+berth+in+the+NCAA+Championships%2C+first+having+to+run+well+at+the+NCAA+Regionals+on+Friday.
Cecilia Lisset Alvarez

Arizona cross-country redshirt senior Kristina Aubert crosses the finish line, winning first place in the three-mile race with a time of 16:40.00 on Sept. 19 during the Dave Murray Invitationatl at Dell Urich Golf Course. Both men’s and women’s cross-country teams have a tough road ahead to earn a team berth in the NCAA Championships, first having to run well at the NCAA Regionals on Friday.

The Arizona men’s and women’s cross-country teams will compete at the NCAA Regionals in Stanford, Calif., on Friday with a shot at making it to nationals on the line.

Both the men and women face an uphill battle toward earning a team qualification for the NCAA Championships next week, as they are competing against a number of top Pac-12 Conference schools. Two weeks ago, the men’s and women’s teams each finished eighth in the Pac-12 Championships.

“First off, there remains some hope that we will run a great race,” UA cross-country head coach James Li said. “It will require our top-five runners to have a strong meet.”

Thirty-one schools compete at NCAA Championships and the top-two teams at the West Regional will guarantee themselves a spot. There are nine regionals in total, so 18 of the 31 bids are automatic. The other 13 are at-large and rely on a team’s season resume.

Considering that neither the Arizona men nor women have finished near the top of any competitive meets this season, the Wildcats’ only practical chance of qualifying rests with finishing in the top two on Friday.

That will be a tough task as the Wildcats face highly ranked opponents on both sides, including Oregon, whose men’s and women’s teams are both in the top three nationally.

The Wildcats will need almost every athlete to run their best race of the season, which is why Li considers a top-two finish a long shot.

“The athletes are obviously working very hard, but we’ll see,” Li said.

The men may be at an even greater disadvantage, as freshman Bailey Roth is considered questionable to run, according to Li.

While Arizona faces slim odds at qualifying as a team, there’s a better chance that individual runners could earn a spot at nationals.

To do so, a runner must first finish in the top 25 at Regionals. If the team qualifies, the runner is automatically in. If not, they must be in the top-four runners outside of the qualifying teams.

The Wildcats’ best hope may rest in senior Kristina Aubert, who has led the women at every meet this year. Aubert finished in 32nd place at the Pac-12 Championships.

The Arizona women also competing in the 6,000-meter race on Friday are seniors Stephanie Bulder and Kate Penney and junior Molly Callahan.

For the men, seniors Sam Macaluso and Kenji Bierig will lead the way in the 10,000-meter race.

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Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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