Ohio State’s men’s and women’s cross country teams will be competing at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship meet with different goals.
The men’s team is moving up in the national rankings and the women’s team is hoping for a big finish at the regional meet to secure a spot in the NCAA National Championship meet.
After a disappointing 22nd-place finish at the NCAA Pre-National meet Oct. 17, the men’s team has been on a roll. It finished with 11 runners in the top 13 at the Eastern Michigan Fall Classic meet on Oct. 23 and second overall at the Big Ten Championship meet Nov. 1.
When the national rankings were released Nov. 2, the men’s team was ranked in the Top 30 for the first time this season at No. 28.
The men’s team needs to finish in the top two at the regional meet to be guaranteed a spot in the National Championship meet. If the Buckeyes finish third, they could get an at-large berth.
The competition at the regional meet will be tough with two other nationally ranked teams, No. 10 Wisconsin and No. 26 Butler, in attendance.
“I think Wisconsin has to be the favorite once again, but I absolutely expect us to be second,” senior runner Jeff See said. “There are a few other teams that should be tough to beat. We just have to stay focused throughout the whole race.”
The key to the race is formulating a plan and sticking to it, See said.
At the pre-national meet, the team did not have a plan and placed poorly. At the Big Ten Championship meet, they had a plan and executed it to perfection en route to a second place finish.
See said the X-factor for the team will be redshirt sophomore Taylor Williams.
“I think it’s really important for Taylor Williams to have a big day,” See said. “He’s been ourbackbone for a lot of the ups and downs we’ve faced this season, and if myself and the rest of the team sees him out there having a huge day, we will all follow suit.”
The women’s team finished eighth at the Big Ten Championship meet, which hurt its opportunity to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA National Championship meet by dropping them to a No. 5 ranking in the region.
“The race was tough, but we all took something away from the experience and I think that as a team, we’ve come away with that much more focus and determination for regionals,” junior Jordan Jennewine said.
The top two teams at the regional meet automatically qualify for the NCAA National Championship meet. Without a top-two finish by the Buckeyes, the outlook for a place at the National Championship meet seems bleak.
“It’s definitely our goal to finish in the top two at regionals and not leave anything to chance. That’s a very realistic goal for us and that’s what we’ve all been focused on since the conference meet,” Jennewine said.
The NCAA Great Lakes Regional meet takes place Saturday at the University of Indiana in Bloomington, Ind.