UConn women's cross country to compete in the NCAA Regionals
The UConn women's cross country team will be competing in the NCAA Regional Championship today at Hammonasset State Park in Madison, Conn. After a week off following a spectacular second-place finish at the Big East Championship on Oct. 26, head coach Andrea Grove-McDonough and her squad are primed and ready to run against some of the stiffest competition in the nation.
"There are so many quality teams in our region," Grove-McDonough said. "It really hasn't gotten the respect I think it deserves in the past, but I think that's really changing now, between Providence and Cornell and [UConn] all ranked in the top 20 now."
After running in the Big East Championship as the 29th- ranked team in the nation, the Huskies entered this week at the 16th overall spot - a thirteen- place jump from the week prior. Apart from UConn, there are three other ranked teams that hail from the Northeast region - Cornell (8th), Providence (20th) and Boston College (27th). Boston College took third place at the ACC Championship on Oct. 27. Yale was ranked in the top thirty as recently as Oct. 23, and Grove-McDonough referred to the ever-dangerous Dartmouth as a "sleeping giant."
In order to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championship, the Huskies must finish in the top two overall.
"We want to be in the top two," Grove-McDonough said." Finishing in the top two is an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Championship, and I'd really like to walk away saying, 'Let's book our tickets, we're going.'"
When the Huskies are running well, there are only a few teams better in the entire nation. The team boasts four runners who, in any given race, could finish inside the top ten, as well as several talented freshmen who are capable of unexpected results. But given that the Northeast region boasts nearly 40 teams, the meet won't be a cakewalk by any means.
If Connecticut happens to finish outside of the top two, then the team's road to the NCAA Championship becomes much more complicated. The Huskies would no longer control their own destiny, a position no team ever wants to be in when it comes to the postseason.
"It's really complicated, and quite frankly some of it can just be bad luck," Grove-McDonough said. "There are teams that you might beat four out of five times, but if they beat you on that day, then you might be out. We can't let our guard down."
From the outset of the 2012 season, it has been the team's collective goal to qualify for the NCAA Championship. After a disappointing near-miss last year, the team came back this season determined and ready to make a serious run at a national title. And now, after eight weeks worth of competitive races, the Huskies are rearing to prove to the region and to the country that the lights on the national stage no longer shine too bright.
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