Women's Cross Country preview: NCAA Championships
Nov. 15, 2012
The No. 19 Texas Women's Cross Country team heads to Louisville, Ky. this week to take on the nation's top competition at the NCAA Championships on Saturday at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer Park. The Longhorns earned their third-straight automatic qualification for the national meet by placing second as a team at the NCAA South Central Regional last weekend in Fayetteville, Ark.
The women's 6,000-meter championship race is scheduled for 11 a.m. Central on Saturday while the men's 10,000-meter championship race will take place at 12:15 p.m. NCAA.com will carry a live web stream of the event.
Junior Marielle Hall, who was named the 2012 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association South Central Region Athlete of the Year after winning the individual title at the region meet, and fellow junior Sara Sutherland have paced UT throughout the 2012 season. They will be joined on Saturday by seniors Laleh Mojtabaeezamani and Anne Jones, who will round out their cross country careers for Texas, along with juniors Megan Siebert and Brittany Marches and freshman Kendall Howen.
"At Nationals we really just want to remain positive throughout the duration of the trip," Hall said. "It's really getting each other ready for the race and giving an effort that's representative of the best that we can do and the best that we can be. If we each do that I think without trying to control other circumstances or other people, then we can do special things."
For Hall, Sutherland, Mojtabaeezamani, Siebert and Marches, competing on the national stage will be a familiar position. All five raced for the Longhorns at the 2011 NCAA Championships, where Texas came in 26th. Siebert, Hall, Sutherland and Mojtabaeezamani also competed for Texas at NCAAs in 2010, where UT was 20th.
"The National Championship is a big stage and it takes awhile to accommodate yourself to it," Texas cross country coach Stephen Sisson said. "I think that the experience all the girls have had is going to really catapult them into a spot where they aren't going to be intimidated by the field size, they're not going to be intimidated by the weather or the course and they're not going to be intimidated by the people they race against. They believe they belong in this race and I know they do. "
The Longhorns will be racing a course that is familiar to them and on which they have experienced success, having competed in the Pre-Nationals Invitational at the same venue in October and placing fifth out of 39 teams.
"Running the Pre-Nationals meet was very valuable for us to get experience on that course and I think we had the best race that we have had all year so far at that race," Sisson said. "We had a good five runners at Pre-Nats so we're going in there with some comfort and really excited about what we think we're going to be able to pull out at that meet."