Nov. 11, 2004
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All 10 Conference men's cross country squads will compete this weekend at their respective NCAA Regional sites for the chance to earn a coveted bid to the 2004 NCAA Championships. This Saturday, November 13, six Big Ten teams -- Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin -- will compete at the Great Lakes Regional in Ypsilanti, Mich. Penn State will host the Mid-Atlantic Regional, while Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota travel to the Midwest Regional in Peoria, Ill.
The men's 10,000-meter race will begin at 12 p.m. for the Mid-Atlantic Regional and the Midwest Regional, while the Great Lakes Regional will begin at 12:15 p.m.
The top two teams and the top four individuals, not on one of those teams (providing they finish in the top 25) will automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships held on November 22, 2004, at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind. An NCAA committee will select 13 at-large teams and two at-large individuals from the NCAA's nine regions. Thirty-one teams and 38 individuals will qualify for the NCAA meet.
The following is a brief look at this year's outlook:
Great Lakes Regional
Wisconsin, the six-time defending Big Ten champion and the top-ranked team in the nation, will be the favorite in Ypsilanti, but will be tracked by No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 10 Indiana. The Hoosiers finished second behind the Badgers in the Conference race two weeks ago. No. 23 Michigan and No. 29 Ohio State are the two other League teams in the regional ranked in the Mondo Men's National Top 30 Poll. At last year's NCAA Great Lakes Regional, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State and Indiana went 1-2-3-5, respectively, and earned spots in the NCAA Championships. The Badgers and Wolverines received automatic berths, while Ohio State and Indiana were awarded at-large berths.
Penn State is the lone Big Ten squad to compete in the Mid-Atlantic regional and will be led by Dan Mazzocco. The Nittany Lion sophomore raced to the individual title at the Mid-Atlantic Regional last season in a time of 30:06 to earn his ticket to the NCAA Championships. Mazzocco was the first Nittany Lion since 1988 to win a regional race. No. 7 Georgetown is the highest-ranked team in the regional.
Last season at the Midwest Regional, Minnesota took second to earn an automatic team berth, while Iowa runner Brian Rae captured seventh in that race to earn an automatic individual selection. No. 17 Iowa is the top ranked men's team in the field and Minnesota is 22nd. Oklahoma State, ranked 25th this season, claimed the 2003 Midwest Regional title.