Nov. 11, 2011
BEAUMONT, Texas -
The Lamar University men's and women's cross country teams will compete at the NCAA South Central Regionals in Waco, Texas, on Saturday morning.
The 10,000-meter men's race is scheduled for 10 a.m., with the 6,000-meter women's race slated to get under way at 11:15 a.m. Both races will be held at the Cottonwood Creek Golf Course.
The Lamar men's team is coming off of its sixth consecutive Southland Conference Tournament title, and hopes to contend to finish in the top two to receive an automatic berth into the NCAA Championships.
"It will be a strong field," Lamar cross country coach Trey Clark said. "Texas, Arkansas and Texas A&M are all quality teams. We have to beat two of those three to get into the nationals."
The Cardinals had seven runners finish in the top 13 at the Southland Conference meet. Clark is hoping for another strong performance from them Saturday.
"The guys who performed well for us at the conference meet have to perform for us this weekend," he said. "That's what makes it a team sport. If all seven don't perform well, it's going to hurt you in the team scoring."
Lamar had five runners place in the top 10 at the conference meet, led by Matt Johnsen, who finished second. Tom Wade was fourth, Bob Ahimbisibwe was sixth, Joe Wade was seventh and Anthony Pequeno was 10th. After that, Sam Stabler was 12th and Sam Bradley was 13th.
"All of our runners are capable of having a great day," Clark said. "They've pushed each other and improved all season."
The top two teams, plus the top four individual finishers on a team that did not finish in the top two, will qualify for the NCAA Championships set for Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind.
Last season, Lamar finished third, behind Arkansas and Texas, in the regionals to just miss out on a berth in the nationals. However, Johnsen earned a spot by virtue of his ninth-place finish.
On the women's side, Clark is hoping for the Lady Cardinals to improve upon last season's ninth-place finish at the regionals.
"We're ranked eighth in the region going in," Clark said. "There are some teams ahead of us we are capable of beating.
"Again, just like the men, we have to perform as a team. The fifth person is just as important as the first, and the seventh person is just as important as the first."
The Lady Cardinals are coming off a third-place finish at the Southland Conference Championships, their best showing in four years. Sam Walkow led Lamar by finishing eighth, while Taylor Cloy placed 11th.
"I really think we can improve upon last year's finish," Clark said. "Our women's program continues to get better."