National prominence is on the line for the Ohio State men’s and women’s cross country teams this weekend at the NCAA Pre-Nationals.
The men’s team won its first two meets decisively, with five different runners finishing in the top 10 in both meets.
Led by senior Jeff See, who has placed second and first overall this season, the men’s team hopes to show the cross country world it is a legitimate national contender.
The poor competition at the first two meets led to the men’s team falling in the regional rankings, from No. 4 to No. 5.
Only the top two teams in each region, for both the men and women, receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships on Nov. 23.
Ranked No. 6 in the region, the women’s team needs to do well this weekend to keep its championship meet hopes alive.
“If we could go and beat some top teams, it would give us some points for the [Nationals] at the end of the year if we don’t finish in the top two in the region,” assistant coach Chris Neal said.
Every finish for the women’s team this season has been progressively better, culminating in a first-place finish at the All-Ohio Championships, the first-ever win for the Buckeyes at that meet.
This season is a big turnaround for the team, which has had a couple down years.
The reason for the success this year is “a complete change of attitude,” Neal said. “The girls came into this year with higher expectations.”
The men’s team will welcome back redshirt sophomore Taylor Williams to the lineup this weekend.
Williams sat out for the All-Ohio Championships with patella tendinitis as a precaution to protect him for this weekend’s meet.
He finished fourth overall at the Mountaineer Open to begin the year.
The women’s team is also returning a crucial part of its squad, junior Sarah Foster.
Foster finished first overall in her only meet of the year at the 5K Cedarville Friendship Invitational.
This weekend’s meet gives both confident Buckeye teams the chance they need to move up in the polls and to clinch one of the two automatic or 13 at-large spots in Nationals.
“If you can end up in the top 10 to 12, then you have a good chance of making it in the top 31 that run at Nationals,” coach Robert Gary said.