Four men's and five women's cross country teams selected for NCAA championships

By the Pac-12 Conference

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- Four men's and five women's Pac-12 cross country teams are headed to the 2012 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 17 in Louisville, Ky. In addition, six individual Pac-12 runners will be vying for the individual titles.

In order to be eligible to participate in the championships, teams and individuals qualified in their respective regional competitions. Thirty-one teams were selected to participate in each championship. The top two, seven-person teams automatically qualified from each of the nine regions, for a total of 18 teams. Thirteen additional teams were selected at-large.

STANFORD men qualified as a team by winning the NCAA West Regional last Friday, while OREGON also captured the West Regional women's title to automatically qualify for the national championship. Led by senior Jordan Hasay, The Ducks' title was their first since 1995. Hasay won the West Regional for the third year in a row and, last year, came in second place at the NCAA Championships by just .6 seconds behind the winner. The Cardinal women also automatically qualified by placing second in the NCAA West Regional.

In addition to Oregon and Stanford, COLORADO will also be sending both its men's and women's teams to the NCAA Championships. The Buffs earned an at-large bid out of the Mountain Regional, each team placing third in the race. The Ducks and UCLA each received at-large bids on the after a fourth- and third-place showing, respectively, at the men's West Regional.

ARIZONA and WASHINGTON placed third and fourth behind the Ducks and Cardinal at the NCAA West Regional, which was hosted by the Huskies, to receive at-large bids for the national meet. The Huskies were second last year, trailing the national champions by just eight points, the closest margin of victory in the race since 1998.

Thirty-eight individuals were also selected to participate in each championship through an automatic qualifier and at-large selection process. All individual qualifiers finished in the top 25 in their region. The men's finishers to place in the top-25 at the West region and are now headed to the finals are ARIZONA's Lawi Lalang and Stephen Sambu, who placed first and second at the meet. Lalang, the two-time Pac-12 individual champion, will be defending his NCAA title in Louisville, after winning in convincing fashion at last year's championship, crossing the finish line 13 seconds ahead of the second-place runner.

UW's Joey Bywater and WASHINGTON STATE's Todd Wakefield will also be joining the Wildcat duo in Louisville.

On the women's side, UTAH's Amanda Mergaert makes her third-straight appearance at the NCAA Championships as an individual after placing in the top 25 at the Mountain regional. CALIFORNIA sophomore Kelsey Santisteban makes her second-career appearance at the national championship meet.

Louisville will host the Championships on Saturday, Nov. 17, at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky. The women's race will begin at noon ET, followed by the men's race at 1:15 p.m. ET.