UConn men's cross country to compete in the NCAA Regionals
The UConn men's cross country team journeyed to Madison yesterday for the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships. While the men's 10-kilometer race beginning at 1:15 p.m., will decide which teams qualify for next week's national championship, UConn enters the race with a focus on individual rather than team competition.
With just three athletes entered, the Huskies' full roster won't be on display Friday, but UConn still looks to have a strong showing. No. 1 and No. 2 runners Ryan McGuire and Jordan Magath should contend toward the front portion of the race, while freshman Edward Wilson will make his NCAA Regional Championship debut.
For Magath, the NCAA Regionals will be one of his last cross country races for the Huskies, and the individual-oriented mindset that the team is taking for this year's meet should provide him with the opportunity to focus on his own goals. Fortunately, the senior has a wealth of experience to draw from as he enters Friday's meet. Not only is he a senior in the midst of what he refers to as a very consistent season, but he also has knowledge of the Hammonasset State Park course, having competed there for the regional championships in 2010. And he believes the increased distance of the race-a 10-kilometer instead of an 8-kilometer-should serve to his advantage as well.
Yet Magath is only using this experience to set his expectations even higher. "My goal for this race is to better my time and place from when I race at the [Hammonasset] course two years ago. I am looking forward to this race and really think that I can come close to breaking 30 minutes if I feel great and the weather cooperates," Magath said.
Meanwhile, the team's frontrunner, McGuire, has a great chance of finishing in the front portion of the race. Seventy-fourth at the 2011 regionals, McGuire has made dramatic improvements over last year, and a top-50 performance should be within his grasp.
UConn's individualistic approach to the NCAA Regionals is a different mindset from last year, when the squad competed as a full team in 2011 with seven athletes. Last year's competition resulted in a 10th-place finish for the Huskies in a competitive field of 33 teams. The 2011 team title went to Syracuse for the third consecutive year, with Iona earning the runner-up position and the second automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. Claiming the third and fourth spots at the Regionals and wildcard bids to the National Championship were Columbia and Providence.
This year, many of the same squads are predicted to dominate the race, as three of the four national qualifiers from 2011 are currently nationally ranked: No. 4 Iona, No. 15 Syracuse and No. 22 Columbia. Providence and Dartmouth are both receiving votes in the national poll. Although the Orange have won the past three regional championships and are coming off a decisive victory at the Big East Championship, Iona is currently ranked nine spots above Syracuse in the national poll and will aim to reclaim its regional victories from 2007 and 2008.
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