Nov. 11, 2004
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All 11 Big Ten women's cross country squads will look to gain the opportunity to race at the 2004 NCAA Championships this week in regional competition at three different sites. 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 hosts the Mid-Atlantic Regional, while Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Northwestern travel to the Midwest Regional in Peoria, Ill.
The women's 6,000-meter race will begin at 11 a.m. in all three regions -- Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest.
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
No. 4 Michigan leads a pack of six League squads into the Great Lakes Regional. The three-time defending Big Ten champion was the only team to receive an automatic berth after capturing second last year. Michigan State, Indiana and Wisconsin finished third, fourth and sixth in the meet, respectively, and earned at-large invitations to the NCAA Championships as well. Michigan State will make a run for the regional crown as the Spartans are led by Big Ten champion Danette Doetzel, who was recently named the League's Athlete and Freshman of the Year. Among the competition in the Great Lakes Regional is No. 6 Notre Dame, No. 13 Michigan State and the Hoosiers, ranked 27th in the latest FinishLynx National Top 30 Poll.
Penn State earned an at-large berth after taking fourth in the Mid-Atlantic Regional last year, paced by Molly Landreth who finished fourth with a time of 20:09. The Nittany Lions will face tough competition as Villanova is ranked 14th, while Princeton and Georgetown are 20th and 24th, respectively.
Three nationally-ranked teams are set to compete in the Midwest Regional. Missouri is ranked ninth, Illinois is 16th and Oklahoma is 26th. Minnesota is ranked just outside the nation's top 30 as the Golden Gophers have received votes in the poll. Iowa and Northwestern will be battling for an NCAA bid this weekend as well. Illinois' Cassie Hunt raced to an individual automatic invitation last year by taking fifth overall at the Midwest Regional.