Big Ten Sends 11 Teams and Four Individuals to NCAA Championships
Nov. 17, 2004
On Monday, November 22, 11 Conference squads and four individuals will compete at the 2004 NCAA Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships, which will be held at the Lavern Gibson Championships Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Complex in Terre Haute, Ind. Indiana State University will serve as host.
The women's 6,000-meter race will take place at 11 a.m. ET, followed by the men's 10,000-meter race at 12:15 p.m. Of the 11 Big Ten teams and four individuals that qualified for the NCAA Championships, eight were automatic qualifiers, while the remaining seven received at-large bids. Three teams - Michigan women, Minnesota men and Wisconsin men - earned automatic bids by way of claiming NCAA Regional titles as the Wolverines and Badgers captured the Great Lakes Regional Championships, while the Gophers won the Midwest Regional. The Illinois women placed second in the Midwest, which also earned them an automatic invitation to the NCAAs.
On the men's side, seven Big Ten teams - Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin - will vie for the nation's top prize. Wisconsin, which has been ranked No. 1 the entire season and finished second the past two year's at the NCAA meet, is one of the favorites to claim the national championship. The Badgers will be making their 44th overall NCAA appearance and their 33rd consecutive meet dating back to 1972. Michigan enters the NCAA Championships ranked 13th in the men's Mondo National Top 30 Poll, while No. 15 Minnesota, No. 17 Indiana, No. 23 Ohio State and No. 25 Iowa are ranked as well. Minnesota, behind senior Andrew Carlson, who captured his second Midwest Regional title last weekend in 29:48.44, added the 2004 Midwest Region team title to those won in 1999 and 2001. Michigan, Indiana, Ohio State and Michigan State placed fourth through seventh, respectively, at the Great Lakes Regional, while Iowa finished third at the Midwest. Minnesota's Carlson was not the lone Big Ten runner to earn an NCAA Regional title as Michigan's Nate Brannen won the Great Lakes race with a time of 30:10.9, followed closely behind by Indiana's Sean Jefferson (30:14.3). Ohio State's Brian Olinger, Indiana's John Jefferson and Wisconsin's Matt Tegenkamp and Chris Solinsky finished fourth through seventh, respectively. Minnesota received a third-place finish in the Midwest from Ryan Malmin, who finished one spot ahead of Illinois' Jason Bill. Both Bill and Penn State's Dan Mazzocco, who finished fifth at the Mid-Atlantic Regional, earned automatic bids as individuals.
Four Big Ten women's teams will advance to Monday's NCAA Championships, as Illinois and Michigan captured automatic bids, while Indiana and Michigan State were selected at-large. No. 4 Michigan leads all four Big Ten squads in the latest women's FinishLynx National Top 30 Poll. Michigan State is 13th, Illinois is 21st and Indiana is 24th. At the Great Lakes Regional, the Wolverines paced the field with 40 points, followed by Michigan State in third and Indiana in fourth. Michigan, which finished fourth at last year's NCAA meet, will make its 16th overall appearance. Individually, the meet was determined between the 2003 Big Ten Champion, Michigan's Rebecca Walter, and Michigan State's Danette Doetzel, the 2004 Conference Champion and Athlete and Freshman of the Year award winner. Walter (20:01.4) beat out the Spartan freshman by 0.9 seconds as Doetzel finished in 20:02.3. MSU's Caitlin Kelly placed fifth, while Indiana's Jessica Gall and Michigan's Andrea Parker finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
Last season's Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Cassie Hunt, claimed the Midwest Regional crown in a time of 20:21.29 and led her Illinois Fighting Illini to a second-place finish. It was the highest finish for an Illini team since the 1984 squad finished runner-up and marked the first time in program history the Illini advanced to the NCAA Championships as a team. Hunt's teammate, Jamie Turilli, crossed the finish line in eighth place in 20:48.65. Individually, Wisconsin's Katrina Rundbaug and Purdue's Amber Ferner gained automatic bids to the NCAAs by way of placing 11th and 20th, respectively, at the Great Lakes Regional. Ferner made history last weekend as she became the first Purdue female to run in the NCAA Championships in cross country since Becky Cotto in 1982.
Gates open for spectators at 9 a.m. on Monday, with admission prices set at $5 for adults and students. Children two years and younger are free. Results can be found immediately following the races at www.ncaasports.com and www.indstate.edu/athletic.