No. 5 Men's Cross Country poised for a run at the NCAA Championships
Nov. 15, 2012
The No. 5-ranked Texas men's cross country team will compete in the NCAA Championships for the fourth-consecutive year on Saturday in Louisville, Ky.
The meet is scheduled to begin at 12:15 p.m. CST at Tom Sawyer Park with Louisville serving as the host school.
The Longhorns automatically qualified for the NCAA meet by winning the South Central Regional title for the second-straight year on Nov. 9 in Fayetteville, Ark.
The Horns (38 points) had a strong showing at regionals with six of their seven competitors finishing among the top 17 enabling them to cruise past Arkansas (53) and Texas A&M (93).
Junior Ryan Dohner (fourth), sophomore Craig Lutz (sixth), senior Rory Tunningley (seventh), senior Kyle Merber (ninth), senior Patrick McGregor (12th) and senior Trevor Van Ackeren (17th) earned All-South Region honors by finishing in the top 25.
"It was exactly what we wanted to do," said Tunningley. "We wanted to go out there and beat Arkansas on its home course and it was awesome to do that. A lot of our guys can run in packs and groups, which we did last weekend. If we continue to do that, we can achieve our goals."
Texas has missed out on the national meet just twice (2003, 2008) in the last 13 seasons and is hoping to build on last year's 11th-place finish in the 31-team field.
Lutz (33rd), Dohner (40th) and Tunningley (78th) were the Longhorns top finishers at last year's national meet at Indiana State.
The Longhorns haven't finished in the top five at the NCAA Championships since 1990 when they were fourth, but they currently have their highest-ever ranking in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll.
Coach John Hayes, who has led the Texas cross country program over the last five years, was voted the NCAA South Central Region Coach of the Year by the USTFCCCA Tuesday for the second-consecutive season and will be fielding an experienced lineup Saturday in the 10K race.
"We are teaching the guys that they have to deal with adversity because that is a part of the sport. They have done this before; this is not new to them," said Hayes. "I am confident in this group of guys."