The Lawrence University Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams have one final meet left of their season. They will be traveling to Winneconne, Wis. for the NCAA Midwest Regional Championship meet hosted be University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh at Lake Breeze Golf Course. This meet is another huge meet for the team as it features all NCAA Division-III teams from the states of Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri.
While the conference championship is the biggest meet of the season for the team, regionals comes in a close second. Both meets are high-stakes events, but the level of competition and size of the meet increases for the regional championship. The meet will feature roughly 40 teams and 300 runners in each race providing lots of competition and people to run with throughout the race.
At the conference championships the team focused on place, whereas regionals allows for more of a focus on time. The team is in peak racing shape, having tapered their training that began in June for the upcoming cross country season. With plenty of quality competition, the runners are looking to improve their personal best times and end the season on a high note. Freshman Christina Sedall explains her thoughts on the season going into the final meet saying, “The season is going better than I could have expected. It was a big transition coming to like such a small team but I was like really happily surprised with like all the work we’ve put in over the summer and over the past few weeks. Conference I think didn’t go as well as anyone truly wanted but I think it set us up for a good place. Especially being a freshman, looking at our freshman class and being like I can envision the next four years and what we want to get out of the next three years of cross country. And I think that was exciting for me.”
The Vikings have the advantage of running on the course earlier in the season meaning that there should be no major surprises for the team on race day. However, the meet atmosphere will be quite different on Saturday than it was earlier in the season. “It’s interesting because the course will be the same but it’s an entirely different situation when you’re at this point in the season and you have so much more training in your legs than last race and there is that many more people” said Sedall on being back at Oshkosh for regionals.
The regional championship meet also offers the opportunity to qualify for nationals. The top two teams at each regional championship meet automatically qualify for the national championship meet. In addition, there are 16 at-large bids handed out after the regional meets to create a 32-team field for the national championship meet. Finally, the top seven individuals at each regional championship meet who are not part of a qualifying team are given the opportunity to run at the national meet as well.
While the idea of qualifying for nationals is exciting, the cross country teams realize that their focus for regionals is having fun and turning in their best performances of the season. “So regionals, I’m excited because since conference didn’t go as well as we hoped, I’m hoping that this can be like reconciliation and a chance to prove ourselves again before the season is done because I think we deserve that” said Sedall. The gun goes off for the final time for in the 2016 season Saturday, Nov. 12 at 11 a.m. for the women and at noon for the men.