NCAA Regional Action Comes To Seattle
Nov. 6, 2012
SEATTLE - For the first time ever, the NCAA West Regional Cross Country Championships are set to go off right here in Seattle this Friday at 12 noon at Jefferson Park Golf Course. Over thirty men’s and women’s cross country teams, every top squad in the West, will be on hand to race for a spot on the starting line of the NCAA Championships which are now less than two weeks away.
The women’s 6,000-meter race is held first at 12 noon. The starting line and finish are located right alongside Beacon Avenue, just a minute to the east of the I-5 freeway. Next up will be the 10,000-meter men’s race at 1:15 p.m., with the day wrapped up by 2 p.m.
Admission is free for all spectators who want to come out and cheer on the Dawgs. The seventh-ranked Husky women’s team has won four consecutive West Region titles, the second-best streak in the history of the meet. But in order to win a fifth, Washington will need to upset three Pac-12 rivals that also finished ahead of UW at the Pac-12 Championships on Oct. 27. Third-ranked Oregon, fourth-ranked Arizona, and fifth-ranked Stanford will be looking to end Washington’s Regional control. Those top four teams are all confident in their NCAA outlook if they have a solid race on Friday.
The Husky men’s team is looking for some hometown mojo as it chases its first trip to nationals since 2009. Washington had its best run of the season at the Pac-12 Championships, where despite a sixth-place finish the Huskies were just 14 points out of third-place, right behind Oregon, Arizona State, and UCLA. That group of teams figures to mix it up again on Friday for potential auto or at-large bids. Third-ranked Stanford and ninth-ranked Portland are the highest-ranked squads in the West, followed by No. 11 Oregon, No. 25 ASU, No. 27 UCLA, and then the Huskies in the receiving votes category.
The West Region is one of nine regional races held on Friday across the country. The first- and second-place teams at every Regional earn automatic advancement to the NCAA Championships on Nov. 17 in Louisville. After those 18 teams are identified on both the men’s and women’s sides, an additional 13 teams will earn at-large bids.
The at-large selection process makes the electoral college look simple as basic arithmetic, but the process includes awarding “points” to teams that finished ahead of auto NCAA qualifiers during regular season races. Teams with the highest point totals then get added to the field. One key component is the “push” scenario, where a potential at-large qualifying team that finishes behind another non-qualifier at a regional race can push that team into the meet. No team can earn an at-large bid if the teams that placed ahead of that team at Regionals don’t also qualify for nationals, and only one team can be “pushed in” per region.
Needless to say, the Husky women are in a position of strength with their impressive regular season, while the Husky men will be targeting a top-five finish and anything outside of the top-two will require some number crunching.
Individual runners can also qualify for NCAAs if they are one of the top-four finishers in the region not on an advancing team, while also finishing in the top-25 overall in the race.
The last time the NCAA West Regional Championships were held in the state of Washington was 1995, when the race was held in the city of Woodland. That was also the site of the 1993 Regionals, and Bellevue hosted the event once in 1985. Washington last ran on the Jefferson Park Golf Course in 2010, when UW hosted the Pac-10 Championships.