Today marks one of the most important dates on the calendar for NCAA running. Teams from all stretches of the country will toe the line at their respective NCAA Regional Championship race, hoping to claim a trip to Madison Wisconsin for the NCAA Cross Country National Championships. Between the men’s and women’s divisions, 18 regional races will take place this morning in nine different cities across the country.
The Cardinal are no stranger to today’s competition. This year’s race marks the 27th consecutive appearance at regionals for both the men’s and women’s team, a record dating back to 1992. Since 1994, the men have consecutively placed third or better.
Since joining the program in 2012, head coach Chris Miltenberg has coached the men to three first-place finishes at regionals (2012, 2013, 2016). In last year’s competition, the men placed third led by fifth-year Steven Fahy while the women finished runner-up behind junior Fiona O’Keefe’s sixth place performance.
After claiming his second consecutive cross country Pac-12 crown two weeks ago, senior Grant Fisher will lead the No. 5 men’s team through a 10-kilometer (6.21 mile) trip around Sacramento’s Haggin Oaks Golf Complex, host of this year’s NCAA West Regionals. The last two times Sacramento hosted the west regionals, the men took first place at both (2013, 2016).
The No. 6 women’s team, led by fifth-year Elise Cranny, will traverse a six-kilometer (3.72 mile) version of the course. In 2016, the women won the regionals race and took second last year.
This year’s team features a younger generation of Stanford students, including sophomores Jordan Oakes, Julia Heymach and Jessica Lawson and freshman Rebecca Story. Elise is joined up front by O’Keeffe, who finished 29th overall and first for the Cardinal at last year’s NCAA Championships.
The men come into today’s race ranked No. 2 in the West after winning the Pac-12 Championships two weeks ago. On the women’s side, the Cardinal are ranked No. 3 in the West after a third-place finish in the conference.
For both the men’s and women’s races, the top two teams will automatically qualify for nationals and all other teams must hope for an at-large bid, which is determined based on a point system that compares a team’s season performance to teams that have already qualified.
Both the men’s and women’s team look to be in good shape to qualify for nationals based on their performances this season. The women’s race will start at 11 a.m. today followed by the men’s race at noon.
Contact Alejandro Salinas at asalinas ‘at’ stanford.edu.