Nov. 10, 2010
LARAMIE, Wyo. - The way Wyoming cross country coach Randy Cole sees it, there are three steps in the championship season.
Step 1 was the Mountain West Championships, which took place Oct. 29 in Laramie. Now it's time for Step 2.
The Cowboys and Cowgirls will be in Salt Lake City on Saturday for the NCAA Mountain Region Championships. The event is one of nine regional meets throughout the country in Division I cross country. The Mountain Region is made up of 19 schools that are at least 3,000 feet in elevation.
The University of Utah will host the race, which will be run at Rose Park Golf Course in northwest Salt Lake City. The women's 6,000-meter race will start at 10:30 a.m. and the men's 10,000-meter race will start at 11:30 a.m.
The race certainly won't lack for competition. Cole said the Mountain Region traditionally is a strong field, and this year is no exception. There are four nationally ranked teams in the men's race, including No. 7 Northern Arizona, No. 9 Colorado, No. 10 New Mexico and No. 15 BYU. There also are three nationally ranked teams in the women's race, with No. 3 Texas Tech, No. 8 Colorado and No. 10 New Mexico.
There's a lot at stake for Wyoming at regionals. With good performances, the Cowboys and Cowgirls could qualify for some national races.
"It is our goal to be in the top 10 or higher with our men and the top 15 or higher with our women," Cole said. "These are modest goals to shoot for. We have individuals who have a great shot at earning All-Mountain Region (which is the top 25 racers in each race).
"We view this as the second part of the championship series of meets. Step 1 is conference, then regionals and then, ultimately, Step 3 is (NCAA) nationals."
The Mountain Region Championships qualify the top two teams automatically to the NCAA National Meet, plus there will be at-large teams selected following all of the regional competitions around the country to make up the field of 31 teams for the national championships.
The top four individual who are not on any of the automatic or at-large teams also will qualify for the national championships.
That should provide the Cowboys and Cowgirls with all the motivation they need.
"We have some individuals who have an outside shot at qualifying if they run extremely well," Cole said.