The Big Ten Championship meet is vital to the men’s and women’s cross country teams’ chances of making the National Championship meet.
After placing 11th at the Pre-National meet, the women’s team is looking forward to a strong finish this Sunday at the Big Ten Championship meet.
“I think if we’re top five, we’ve got a good chance to get in [to the National Championships],” women’s coach Chris Neal said.
The Buckeyes have not fared well at the Big Ten Championships the past six years. Their highest finish was eighth in 2003.
The women’s team is led by senior Katie Williams and juniors Jordan Jennewine, Sarah Foster and Ellen Birmingham.
The Buckeyes can achieve a top five finish “if we’re able to pack four in tight with the kind of four-headed monster we got up front with Jordan [Jennewine], Foster, Katie Williams and Ellen Birmingham and get the low points we need,” Neal said.
The women’s team is ranked No. 4 in its region — up from No. 6,its rank prior to the Pre-National meet.
“I think [the Pre-Nationals] gave us the confidence going into Big Tens to beat teams like Michigan State and Michigan who maybe were ahead of us at the Pre-National meet,” Foster said.
The men’s team is hoping to bounce back after its performance at Pre-Nationals, in which it finished 22nd out of 35 teams.
One of the reasons for the finish was illness. Coach Robert Gary said one player did not travel with the team and several others were feeling flu-like symptoms.
“I’m fully healthy again and so are our other guys who were feeling a little sick,” senior Jeff See said. “We’ve been having great workouts.”
For the team to have any chance at making the National Championship meet, it needs a strong finish at the Big Ten Championships.
If the Buckeyes can finish ahead of higher ranked teams at the meet, such as Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Iowa, they could gain some points toward the National Championship meet.
“We’re not trying to do all the math and figure out how many points we need and how well our team needs to do in order to qualify other than just being there on race day,” See said.
The men’s team dropped to No. 8 in its region, down from No. 5, after the disastrous run at Pre-Nationals.
The meets will be held Sunday at Penn State in State College, Pa.