Utah cross country heads to Pre-National meet on Saturday.
Oct. 9, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY- After taking a week off from competition, the University of Utah women’s cross country team returns to action on Saturday as it is slated to compete at the NCAA Pre-National meet in Louisville, Ky. The race will be held at Tom Sawyer State Park and is set to begin at 10:15 a.m. ET.
“The NCAA cross country meet is the toughest championship to qualify for because they take less than ten percent of the total teams, compared to sports like basketball, baseball, and softball where twenty percent of the teams qualify,” Utah head coach Kyle Kepler said. “However, if you are able to qualify as a team or you have individuals qualify like we have three of the last four years, you want to be prepared for that moment. So going to Pre-Nationals is our opportunity to see a course that we hope to see again later in the year, as well as earn valuable at-large points that could help us get into the NCAA Championships.”
Coming off a third-place performance at the Stanford Invitational, senior Amanda Mergaert is looking to establish herself among the top runners in the country. The NCAA Pre-National Meet is run on the same course that will host the NCAA Championships in November. On Saturday, Mergaert will have an opportunity to not only gain experience on the course, but also compete against many athletes that she will face in the national meet. Mergaert has qualified for the previous two NCAA Cross Country Championships, and is looking to finally make it over the mountain and earn All-American honors.
Sophomores Susannah Hurst and Giselle Slotboom are both coming off top-20 performances at the Stanford Invitational last weekend. Both runners have continued to finish in the top groups at all the meets this season, but in order for the team to be competitive in the team standings, Hurst and Slotboom will need to have another good race.
“We have spent the last two weeks improving our turnover, team gap control, and improving our running economy over longer interval distances,” Kepler said. “We have to improve our team tactics and pack running if we are going to continue moving forward.”
Among the teams slated to compete is top ranked Florida State, fourth ranked Oregon and defending NCAA Champion Georgetown.