Nov. 9, 2011
HOUSTON - The University of Houston cross country teams are set to race in the NCAA South Central Regional Championships at 10 a.m., Saturday morning in Waco, Texas.
“Our teams are as fit right now as we have been all year,” head coach Ryan Turner said. “This is an exciting time of the season.”
In their last competition, the men placed third at the Conference USA Championships, pushing them to No. 6 in the South Central Region, moving up two spots from their previous ranking.
At last season’s Regional meet, junior David Smith was the lone representative for Houston. The expectations for the men will be much higher this season, as Smith will now be joined by senior Wesley Ruttoh and freshman Yonas Tesfai, who have paid huge dividends for the Cougars this season.
At the C-USA Championships Ruttoh finished third, garnering Senior Athlete of the Meet honors, while Tesfai finished eighth, earning Freshman Athlete of the Meet honors.
“We had a special meet at the Conference Championships,” Turner said. “Wesley, Yonas and David are exceptional people and I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ll be able to accomplish this weekend.”
The women, who placed 10th at last years regional meet, will face an even stronger field then last season. Texas returns as the No. 1 seed, followed by Arkansas, SMU and Rice.
“Megan Munoz was our top-finisher last year,” Turner said. “She’s running just as fast this year as she did last year, but this year it’s been great to see other runners like Kat Ducommun, Starla Garcia and Julie Reinwald improve and run with her.”
On Saturday, the Cougars will battle to be among the field at the NCAA Championships on Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind.
Of the 32 teams that will compete at the NCAA Championships, 16 will come from automatic bids while the other 16 will be at-large selections.
The top two teams will earn an automatic bid into the NCAA Championships, while the top five teams from each Regional Championship will be considered by the NCAA committee as an at-large selection.
Individually, the Cougars will also be competing for one of eight spots that would automatically qualify them for the NCAA meet. The NCAA will announce 56 individuals to compete in the championship, coming from the top eight finishers at each regional.
The men are slated to start at 10 a.m., while the women are scheduled for an 11:15 a.m. start.