Nov. 8, 2007
The UCLA men's and women's cross country teams will head to Oregon on Saturday for the NCAA West Regional Championships with the hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Championships. The top two teams at the meet will earn automatic spots to Nationals, while several at large team bids will also be up for grabs on Saturday.
The men's 10k race will begin at 11:00 am with the women's 6k race to follow at 12:15 pm.
Last year, the Bruin men placed sixth and earned an at-large bid to NCAA's. This season, UCLA is shooting for a top two finish to insure their spot at Nationals. The Bruins are currently ranked fifth in the region behind Oregon, Stanford, California and Portland. In 2006, seven teams received at-large bids, and with the strength of this year's region that looks to be a possible scenario this weekend. There are eight teams from the West Region ranked in the top-30 in the country.
"We've had two great weeks of practice since Pac-10's," said head coach Eric Peterson. "The team recovered very quickly from that race and has been able to assume a high level of training going into this weekend. We are well aware of the task at hand. We've been talking since the beginning of the season about being an automatic qualifier for Nationals and that means we are committed as a team to place in the top-2.
"We realize several teams will be accepted from our region in an at-large capacity, but we feel like we are getting better each week. Our meet results have been a little bit behind with where we are capable of running. We want to come away with a team performance that will help us earn an auto spot to Nationals."
UCLA's highest finish under Peterson's guise was in 2004 when they placed fourth overall. However, that fourth-place showing did not give the team an at-large bid to NCAA's.
The Bruin women have had a tough season as their leader Allie Bohannon has not been healthy enough to run, but this weekend they will look to improve on their race performance and beat teams they placed behind at the Pac-10 meet.
"Without Allie able to compete, we know that the only way for us to produce a successful result is for the athletes we have to run as a unit and be committed to a realistic goal," noted Peterson. "That goal is to beat four or five of the teams who finished ahead of us at Pac-10's, as well as several teams we feel we match up against well in the region. This team needs to compete in a way that's going to give us a chance to be competitive agaisnt those teams those other teams at the finish line.
"We are going to continue to build for the future, get better and improve."
The women have finished fifth at Regionals the last two years.