UWF ready for NCAA South Region Cross Country Championships

first_imgPENSACOLA, Fla. – The University of West Florida men’s and women’s cross country teams have been training all season with this Saturday in mind, as both teams head to Huntsville, Ala. for the NCAA Division II South Region Championships. The men’s 10,000-meter run will start at 9 a.m., and the women’s 6,000-meter run will follow at 10 a.m.In each race the top three teams will qualify for the NCAA Division II Championships on Saturday, Dec. 6 in Louisville, Ky. The top three individuals from teams that do not advance, plus the top five individual finishers, will also compete at the national meet in Louisville.MEN’S PREVIEWThe UWF men’s team is looking for its first appearance at the NCAA national meet, and this year’s team may have the depth to do so. All-Gulf South Conference first team finisher Nick Merrett (Christchurch, New Zealand) has been the team’s top runner in all six meets this year, and he will look to improve on his 14th place finish at last year’s regional meet. Cody Haden (Navarre, Fla.) has also seen success at the 10k distance, finishing with All-South Region awards each of the last two years.The Argos will enter the regional with momentum after a third place finish at the GSC Championships. Merrett, Haden and Brandon Skeie (West Creek, N.J.) earned all-conference finishes for the Argos in the race.The top-ranked teams in the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association regional rankings are No. 1 Saint Leo, No. 2 Florida Southern and No. 3 West Alabama. Saint Leo is coming off a Sunshine State Conference championship, Florida Southern finished second in the SSC and won last year’s NCAA regional, and West Alabama won the GSC this season. Also in the hunt will be No. 4 Alabama Huntsville and No. 5 Nova Southeastern. UWF enters the race ranked No. 6 in the region.”We’re excited about this weekend,” said UWF head coach Caleb Carmichael. “We’ve had a lot of rest coming into the regional, and we’re coming off one of our best races of the year at the conference meet. We’ll have a lot of confidence going into this race.”WOMEN’S PREVIEWThe UWF women’s team is looking to return to the NCAA nationals for a third time, as their first two appearances came in 2011 and 2012. The Argonauts will rely on GSC individual champion Kelley Bahn (Tallahassee, Fla.), who will enter the race as one of the favorites to finish first. The senior has finished no worse than fourth this year, winning three of six races. Bahn is a three-time All-South Region finisher at the 6k distance, and fellow senior Sarah Smith (Marlette, Mich.) also earned all-region honors a year ago.The Argos are coming off a second place finish at the GSC Championships. Bahn, Smith and Sarah Carrion (Lake Mary, Fla.) were all-conference finishers at the race.UWF is ranked No. 4 in the most recent USTFCCCA regional rankings. SSC champion Saint Leo is ranked first, followed by defending regional champion Tampa at No. 2. Union (Tenn.) is the highest ranked team from the GSC at No. 3 after winning the conference championship. No. 5 West Alabama and No. 6 Alabama Huntsville will also be in the hunt for the three bids to nationals.”After our second place finish at conference we should be hungry,” said Carmichael. “We’ll try to run even better, but we know we have our work cut out for us. We’ve already run a 6k, so I feel like we’ll do well because we’ve had that experience this year.”For information on all UWF athletics, visit www.GoArgos.com.Print Friendly Versionlast_img