Friday marks the end of the cross-country season for most teams in the Northeast. The University of Buffalo will be hosting the 2017 NCAA Northeast Regionals for both the men’s and women’s division. The University of Connecticut will be competing in both fields in hopes of furthering a season that, in retrospect, has been one of success.
On Oct. 28th, 13 days ago, UConn competed at Temple University in both fields of the American Athletic Conference Championships. The day was highlighted by the women’s team, who came away with a historic feat by winning the school’s first ever American Athletic Conference Championship. The women earned a total of 34 points, which was more than enough to beat the second-place SMU Mustangs who scored 63 points.
“The team had a super meet,” women’s head coach J.J. Clark said, according to UConn Athletics. “They executed a plan very well and stayed composed on a very tough course. Three runners in the top-5 is outstanding and five runners in the top-15 is fantastic. We were able to put six runners in front of SMU’s fifth runner to help us solidify a team win.”
The men’s team nearly capped off an unprecedented sweep for the university but was unable to fulfill this feat as they came up just short, finishing second in the AAC. The Huskies were unable to defeat a Tulsa program that captured its fourth consecutive American title: Tulsa 53 to UConn’s 63.
Even though the men’s side would have hoped for a better result, both teams head into the NCAA Northeast Regionals on a high note.
"Our plan is for this to be our best meet of the year,” men’s head coach Greg Roy said, according to UConn Athletics. “Training is going great and we are 100 percent healthy.”
Both sides will look to qualify for the NCAA Championships at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park in Louisville, Kentucky. To qualify, the men’s or women’s team needs to place first or second as a team. Including UConn, there will be 44 men’s teams looking to qualify; the UConn women will be competing against 39 other teams. If the team does not make the NCAA Championships 38 individual runners are also selected to qualify for the race.
“There is a real opportunity for this team, as the top two teams qualify for the NCAA, and we've seen all of the players in the race. A great day might just do it. Individually, Patrick Begley and Mike O'Donnell have as good a chance as anyone of qualifying as individuals,” Roy said, according to UConn Athletics.
In seven of the past eight years, the men’s race has been won by Syracuse, the lone anomaly being in 2012 when Iona, another powerhouse of the Northeast, won the race. The women’s side has seen a similar level of domination as Providence has won four of the last five regionals, the lone anomaly being in 2014 when Iona won. In 2016, the UConnwomen’s side placed 15th out of 37 schools and the men 17th out of 35.
The race will be held on the Audobon Golf Course in Amherst, New York with events starting at 11:00 a.m., when the women’s 6K will take place. The men’s 10K will follow sharply after at 12:00 p.m.
Kenny Beardsley is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.