Arizona, Colorado women win respective cross country regionals; 3 other Pac-12 teams secure at-large NCAA berths
SACRAMENTO - Two Pac-12 women's cross country teams earned regional meet victories Friday and were followed by three at-large qualifiers, as the road to the NCAA cross country championships Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind. nears the end.
In the west region, No. 1 Arizona stayed undefeated on the season by edging out conference foe Stanford 84-94. One time zone over, the No. 10 Colorado Buffaloes smashed the competition with 29 points to claim victory in the mountain region.
Arizona was led once again by senior Elvin Kibet, who finished in eighth place, immediately followed by teammate Kayla Beattie. Both runners posted an official final time of 19:39 over the 6K course. A third Wildcat, Maria Larsson, finished in 10th, just four seconds behind Kibet and Beattie, followed by Nicci Corbin (12) and final scorer Stephanie Bulder (45).
No. 18 Stanford slapped the national rankings in the face as all top five Cardinal women finished in the top 40 to finish second as a team. Led by Pac-12 Conference champion Aisling Cuffe, who finished third overall with a 19:15 race time, the other half of the Cuffe/Tonn duo, Jessica Tonn, finished in sixth place overall in 19:31. The pair were followed by Megan Lacy (20), Cami Chapus (26) and Molly McNamara (39).
[Related: Women's NCAA west region results]
Through an automatic qualifier and at-large selection process, the NCAA selection committee met Saturday and determined that third-place finisher Oregon as well as fifth-place Washington will compete at the Big Dance among 31 teams across the country Nov. 23. Individual qualifiers from the Pac-12 Conference were also selected from both the west and mountain region. Second-place west region finisher and first Pac-12 finisher Shelby Houlihan of Arizona State will battle for an individual title in Terre Haute.
"I definitely want to get top-10 individually," Houlihan said of her goals for the Big Dance.
California's Kelsey Santisteban also qualified individually after finishing fifth in the west region, making her third appearance at the national meet. Rebekah Winterton of Utah will also have an opportunity to compete for an individual title after earning a 10th-place finish in the mountain region.
In Ogden, the No. 10 Buffs followed the lead of their men's counterpart with an impressive 29-point sweep. Led again by Olympic steeplechaser Shalaya Kipp, who finished second overall with a 20:31 race time, Colorado earned its automatic NCAA qualification with all racers earning top-15 spots. Kipp was followed by Carrie Verdon (4), Erin Clark (5), Melanie Nun (6) and Abbey Levene (12).
[Related: Women's NCAA mountain region results]
Indiana State will host the 2013 NCAA cross country championships Nov. 23, where 31 of the best teams in the country will battle for titles at Wabash Valley Family Sports Center in Terre Haute. The live webcast of the event on Nov. 23 starts at 9 a.m. PT.