Nov. 15, 2010
IRVING, Texas -
Conference USA advanced two women's cross country teams and two individuals to the NCAA Championships following Saturday's regional meets.
Rice earned an automatic bid to the national event by finishing second at the South Central Regional held at the Cottonwood Golf Course in Waco, Texas. Taking top individual honors for the second time in her career was senior Nicole Mericle. She won the event by clocking in at 20:16.3. Mericle did not compete in 2009, but captured the 2008 NCAA South Central title with a time of 20:34.7.
Joining Mericle on the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Region list were teammates Britany Williams, Halsey Fowler and Becky Wade. Williams finished the 6k course with a time of 20:48.1 and Fowler (14th) was the third Owl to finish (21:06.0). Wade placed 20th (21:14.5) after missing the whole season recuperating from an injury. She was released to compete on Saturday after undergoing rehabilitation all fall.
This is the fourth time since 2005 that head coach Jim Bevan has led the Rice Owls to the NCAA Championship. Rice finished third at the NCAA South Central Regional in 2005, won the event in 2007, and placed second in 2008.
The 24th-ranked Tulsa Golden Hurricane earned an at-large berth and the school's first NCAA appearance. TU finished a program-best fourth at the Midwest Regional Championship in Peoria, Ill. Junior Paula Whiting tied the school record with her third-place finish at Regionals. She and senior Katie Wright both earned All-Region honors after Wright finished in 12th place. Only two women from Tulsa have ever competed at the cross country national championship. Fride Vullum ran in both 1998 and 1999, while Alex Becker qualified in 2006 and 2007.
The UTEP Miners qualified a pair of runners as two-time C-USA champion and All-American Risper Kimaiyo clocked a winning- and new Rose Parks Golf Course record-time of 20:02 at the Mountain Regional Championship in Salt Lake City, Utah. The victory marked a first for the program. Junior Kathya Garcia was the second Miner to cross the finish line with a time of 20:59 for 13th place. The duo also earned All-Region honors.
UAB's Rhiannon Johns
joined Whiting, Wright, Kimaiyo and Garcia on the USTFCCCA All-Region Team. Johns ran a career-best 6k time of 20:42.22 for 20th place at the NCAA South Regional Championship at Veterans Park in Hoover, Ala.
Tulsa's Justin Duncan and Elkana Rotich of UTEP were named to the men's All-Region squad from Conference USA. Duncan, a junior, led Tulsa to a sixth-place team finish with a 10k time of 30:32.33 at the Midwest Regional. Rotich, the 2010 C-USA Cross Country individual champion, crossed the finish line in a time of 30:26 for 22nd place at the Mountain Regional.
The national championship event will be hosted by Indiana State University and will be held at LaVern Gibson Championship Golf Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center in Terre Haute. The women's 6K race will begin at approximately 11:08 a.m. CST. The top two teams from each regional, along with 13 at-large teams, make up the NCAA Championship field set for Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 22. In addition, 38 individuals, not on qualifying teams, were selected to compete at the national event.
CONFERENCE USA CROSS COUNTRY REGIONAL TEAM FINISHES
23. East Carolina
South Central Region
T21. East Carolina
South Central Region