Duck Women's Cross Country Team Receives At-Large NCAA Bid

Nov. 13, 2000

EUGENE - The No. 22-ranked University of Oregon women's cross country team received confirmation Monday from the NCAA selection committee that they received an at-large invitation to the NCAA Cross Country Championships, scheduled for Monday, Nov. 20 in Ames, Iowa.

Two individuals from the Duck men's team - All-America sophomore Jason Hartmann and senior Michael Kasahun - will also compete next Monday on the Iowa State University Cross Country Course, although the men's squad, tabbed 10th in the most recent ranking last week, just missed an at-large bid themselves.

The Duck women will make their 24th national meet appearance as a team in 26 years under head coach Tom Heinonen after finishing fourth at the NCAA Western Regional Championships last weekend. The team positioned themselves for an at-large invite Monday after regional third-placer, No. 10 No. Arizona, was selected early in the at-large process, and also the fact that the Ducks had five head-to-head wins against fellow NCAA qualifiers - Marquette, North Carolina, South Florida, Wake Forest and Weber State.

'I'm proud of what we did as a team at regionals in Fresno last week,' Heinonen said. 'All along, we knew that it would be a two-step process. We had to run better in the regional so we would have a chance to take the next step and compete in Ames. Over the years, we've done well pretty well in November when it counted, and the team stepped up again this year.'

Last Saturday at the regional 6K race, senior Hanna Smedstad led the UO squad with an eighth-place finish, followed by senior Katie Crabb (15th), sophomore Eri Macdonald (45th), senior Rhiannon Glenn (46th), freshman Laura Harmon (66th), sophomore Erinn Gulbrandsen (74th) and junior Carrie Zografos (93rd).

Smedstad, competing in her first season for the Ducks, was a two-time All-American for Oklahoma State (18th in 1999 and 28th in 1998) before transferring to Oregon this fall. Crabb will also make her third NCAA cross country appearance after finishing 114th in 1999 and 99th in 1998, while second-time NCAA participants include a trio from last year's 19th-place NCAA finishers - Rhiannon Glenn (84th), Erinn Gulbrandsen (239th) and Eri Macdonald (226th).

Besides Oregon, the other 12 at-large women's teams selected nationally included Arizona, Brown, Colorado State, Columbia, Duke, Marquette, Missouri, Providence, Villanova, Wake Forest, Washington and Weber State. The 18 automatic qualifiers - the top two finishers from each of the nine regionals nationally - included Arizona State, Arkansas, Boston College, Brigham Young, Colorado, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Florida, Stanford, Texas A&M, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Yale.

'At nationals, we know we can be a top-20 team but it won't be easy,' Heinonen said. 'We haven't really talked about it as a team, but we need to race well to have a chance. If you race like you're capable of, you can beat a lot of teams.'

On the men's side, although the Ducks posted a solid, fourth-place showing at the NCAA Western Regional, they did not receive an invitation since third-place Cal Poly did not receive an at-large bid. During the year, the Mustangs beat only one NCAA qualifying team, Indiana, and appeared to be at least one win short of qualifying via the at-large process.

However, the UO men will still send two individuals to the NCAA Championships. All-America sophomore Jason Hartmann and senior Michael Kasahun were selected automatically Saturday based on their second and fourth-place finishes overall Saturday after ranking among the top four individuals from non-qualifying teams at the regional. At last year's NCAA Championships, Hartmann led American freshmen (37th), while Kasahun placed 107th in his debut for the Ducks after transferring from Fresno City College.

Prior to Monday, the Duck men's team had positioned themselves with one of the nation's best head-to-head records nationally with wins over 19 of the 31 eventual NCAA qualifying teams, including automatic qualifiers Alabama, Arizona, Eastern Michigan, Illinois State, Missouri, South Florida, William & Mary, Villanova and at-large qualifiers Air Force, Colorado State, Dartmouth, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northern Arizona, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Wake Forest and Weber State.

The 13 men's at-large teams selected Monday included Air Force, Colorado State, Dartmouth, Duke, Illinois State, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northern Arizona, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Wake Forest and Weber State. The 18 automatic qualifiers included Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Brigham Young, Colorado, Eastern Michigan, Georgetown, Iona, Missouri, N.C. State, Oklahoma State, Providence, South Florida, Stanford, Texas, Villanova, William & Mary and Wisconsin.

The NCAA Championships women's 6,000-meter race will begin Monday, Nov. 20 at 11:00 a.m. Central Standard Time, followed by the men's 10,000-meter race at 12:15 p.m. Central Standard Time.

-UO-

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