Women's Cross Country preview: NCAA South Central Regional
Nov. 7, 2012
The No. 22 Texas Women’s Cross Country team travels to Fayetteville, Ark., this weekend to compete in the NCAA South Central Regional on Friday at Agri Park. Hosted by the University of Arkansas, the meet’s top two teams on both the women’s and men’s sides will earn automatic qualification to the NCAA Cross Country Championships on Nov. 17 in Louisville, Ky. The women’s 6,000-meter race is scheduled for 11 a.m. Central while the men’s 8,000-meter will take place at 12:15 p.m.
The Longhorns have held the No. 2 position in the regional rankings throughout the 2012 season behind top-ranked Arkansas. Following those two teams in the rankings are SMU, LSU and Texas A&M. Competing for Texas on Friday will be senior Laleh Mojtabaeezamani, juniors Marielle Hall, Jessica Harper, Brittany Marches, Megan Siebert and Sara Sutherland and freshman Kendall Howen.
Last time out, UT had two runners finish in the Top 10 en route to third place at the Big 12 Championships in Austin. Sutherland crossed the 6K line third overall in 20:19.7, the highest finish by a Longhorn at the conference meet since Liz Diaz finished third in 1998. Hall was close behind in sixth (20:32.7), marking the first time Texas had two runners finish in the top-10 at Big 12s since 2003. Siebert was 15th in 21:28.4, earning the trio of juniors All-Big 12 honors.
The Longhorns continue their 2012 campaign building off a solid 2011. After opening last season with three team victories, including two in which Texas recorded a perfect score of 15, UT earned its highest national ranking (14th) in more than a decade following an impressive fifth-place performance at the Pre-Nationals meet. At the 2011 Big 12 Championships, the Longhorns placed second with Hall and Sutherland each earning all-league honors. Texas also placed second at the 2011 South Central Regional Championships to earn automatic qualification for the NCAA Championships. All five UT scorers, including four 2012 returnees, finished in the top-25 to earn USTFCCCA All-South Central Region honors.
Under the guidance of seventh-year coach Steve Sisson, Texas has qualified for the NCAA Championships in each of the last two seasons, having earned a team spot in 2010 for the first time in seven years. The Longhorns returned five of seven members from the 2011 NCAA Championships squad (Mojtabaeezamani, Sutherland, Siebert, Hall and Marches) with Siebert, Hall, Sutherland and Mojtabaeezamani also having competed for Texas at NCAAs in 2010.
In addition to its strong returnee group, Texas also added significant depth to the roster with a 10-member freshmen class that has made an impact throughout the 2012 season. Howen will look to continue that trend at this weekend's meet.