XC : Syracuse looks to earn automatic bid to nationals

first_imgIndividual performances were a primary focus in a lot of Syracuse’s early season meets.But with the Northeast Regional this weekend and NCAA championships the following week, personal accolades are set aside — so much so, that the Syracuse men’s and women’s teams will run together, in a pack, in their meet this weekend.If no one is left behind, Syracuse’s cumulative team score will prosper.‘We always try to run as a team,’ redshirt sophomore Sean Keefe said. ‘We will go out pretty conservatively at the start because we feel like our strength is in the second half of the race. Really, the last 3K we hope to move through the pack and finish hard.’Seventeen SU runners, nine women and eight men, will travel to Buffalo this weekend for the Northeast Regional meet. Syracuse is looking to win the regional on the men’s and women’s sides for the third straight year. But the Orange’s top seven men and women will race what could potentially be their last race of the season if their performance isn’t up to par and doesn’t help them qualify for nationals.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textTo secure an automatic bid to the NCAA championship Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind., the teams will have to place in the top two this weekend. But in addition to the automatic bids, 13 at-large bids will be given to teams.Syracuse plans to clinch its bid for nationals with an automatic bid. That way there’s no worry at all about whether SU would receive an at-large invite.‘Both teams are in a perceived fine position to receive an at-large bid,’ associate head coach Brien Bell said. ‘But we prefer to take the auto and just get out of town.’In the men’s race, there is a clear-cut regional favorite, and it isn’t Syracuse this year. Iona is the frontrunner, and Providence and Columbia pose challenges as well.By running in a pack and taking it slow from the start, the men’s team plans to finish in consecutive top spots, knocking off some of the other teams that could potentially snatch the two automatic bids.‘I think it’s all about the team right now and just making sure we qualify for nationals,’ Keefe said. ‘We don’t really care so much about individual performances. We’re just going to run in a pack as a team like we have been throughout the season.’Keefe said to place in the top two this weekend Syracuse needs to have five runners finish in the top 20. But an even higher goal would be for the men to place five runners in the top 15, earning all-region honors. The women’s side will be racing some similar competitors. The Orange harriers will battle it out with Providence, Cornell, Columbia and Boston College to defend their regional title and garner an automatic bid to the NCAA championship.The women’s team has had a stellar season, head coach Chris Fox said, and nothing less than perfection is expected this weekend.The same top seven women that ran at the Big East championships will be running this weekend, with sophomores Lauren Kersjes and Alexandra Clinton traveling as alternates.Freshman Jessie Petersen, who will be appearing in her first regional meet Saturday, said she and her teammates plan to approach this race no differently than the others.‘A first-place team finish would be good this weekend,’ Petersen said. ‘I am going to work with the girls on the team, give it my all and see how the results turn out.’Championship season is the time of year when individual goals are set aside. The regional race is about placing in the top two as a team to make it to nationals. Because it’s not until SU qualifies for nationals that the objective can be to make the podium at the NCAA championship.‘This race is 100 percent important,’ Bell said. ‘If you don’t run well here, you’re not going to nationals.’[email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 9, 2011 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Commentslast_img read more