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Muhlenberg College

Friday, November 13, 2009 - page 2

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Championship Preview
Muhlenberg host for xc regional

cross country start

For more than 800 runners from 53 schools, the road to the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships goes through Muhlenberg.

Well, actually it goes through Lehigh. For the third time since 2001, Muhlenberg is the host school for the Mideast Regional, which will be held at Lehigh’s Goodman Campus tomorrow. The women’s race is scheduled for 11 a.m., followed by the men’s race at noon.

The meet is one of eight regional qualifiers for the NCAA Championships. Regional meets hosted by Southern Maine, Grinnell, Wis.-Oshkosh, Geneseo State, Rose-Hulman, Guilford and Pomona-Pitzer also will determine the field for the national championships, set for next Saturday with Baldwin-Wallace as the host.

The top two teams in each region automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships, along with 16 at-large selections, chosen from the 24 teams that finish third through fifth at the regionals. There are also 56 individual qualifiers (seven from each region). Because the individual qualifiers must come from teams that do not qualify, runners can be left “on the bubble” after Saturday’s races; they must wait until the at-large team selections are made to know if they made the field for nationals.

If the regional and national rankings are accurate, the men’s race figures to be highly competitive at the top. The top four teams in the regional rankings (Allegheny, Dickinson, Carnegie Mellon and Haverford) are all ranked in the top 15 in Division III.

Carnegie Mellon is the defending regional champion, having

ended Haverford’s five-year run at the top with a convincing 36-point margin over second-place Allegheny in 2008. Allegheny returns five of its top six runners from last year, however, while CMU only has three of its top seven back.

The top returning individual is Dickinson’s Greg Leak, who was third last year and won the Centennial Conference championship race two weeks ago.

On the women’s side, Johns Hopkins is the clear favorite, having been ranked No. 1 in Division III earlier this season (currently No. 2). Two other CC schools, Dickinson and Haverford, are both ranked in the top 35.

CC schools have dominated the regional meet of late, winning six of the last seven year: Johns Hopkins last season and Dickinson five times from 2002 to 2007, a streak interrupted only by Allegheny in 2004.

Hopkins has the top two returning individuals in Laura Paulsen (fourth) and Mira Patel (seventh), although Haverford sophomore Emily Lipman, who was 10th at the Mideast Regional last year, is the 2009 CC champion.

The Muhlenberg teams are trying to keep alive their streak of qualifying at least one runner for the NCAA Championships each of the last four years. No returning Mules have qualified for the NCAAs, but junior Kate Mahoney came close last year, earning all-region honors by finishing 26th. The top men’s runner, junior Bobby Torphy, was 62nd in last year’s race at Waynesburg.

The Muhlenberg men have finished in the top 10 at the regional race seven of the last eight years, with a high of fourth in 2002 and 2006. The women have been in the top 15 the last six seasons, placing ninth in 2004.
Click here for the regional site.

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