Women, Maglasang prepare for Regionals
Nov. 12, 2010
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis women's cross country team, along with one competitor of the men's squad, will travel to Hoover, Ala., this weekend to compete in the NCAA South Regionals, hosted by Samford.
The women's six-kilometer race will kick off first at 9:45 a.m. (CST) on the Veteran's Park Cross Country Course, followed by the men's 10-kilomter race at 10:45 a.m.
The SEC has dominated this meet for the past few years; Alabama has taken four of the past five men's team competitions, while Florida (2009), Georgia (2006) and Tennessee (2005) each have recently taken women's titles. Florida State earned the 2007 and 2008 women's titles, in addition to being the 2006 men's champions.
"This region is typically dominated by the SEC," said cross country coach Doug Clark. "We can be competitive with anybody; our women had a strong conference meet and were very adamant about wanting to come to the Regional meet."
Florida State comes into this competition as the top-ranked team in both men's and women's cross country in the South Region; nationally, the men rank sixth while the women are second.
Alabama (25th in the men's poll) is the only other South Region team ranked in the top-30 nationally.
In the men's competition, 31 teams will be represented by over 200 athletes from the best of the south, including recent conference champions Florida State (ACC), Kennesaw State (Atlantic Sun), Middle Tennessee State (Sun Belt) and Mississippi Valley State (SWAC).
For Memphis, freshman standout James Maglasang, who has led the Tigers in each meet this season and won the Rhodes Invite, will be the Tigers sole competitor. The Paducah, Ken., native finished 29th in his inaugural Conference USA Cross Country championship race and will garner some experience, and Memphis a distance-running reputation booster, at the Regionals.
"The men's team accomplished a lot this year," said Clark. "We didn't feel it necessary to run the entire squad at the Regionals, especially since some of the middle distance guys (like freshman Brandon Williams and senior Guy Hudson) are already back working with Coach (Nic) Fortenberry in middle distances. James could, if everything fell right, become a top-25 performer and all-region in his freshman season."
In the women's run, 36 schools will be represented on the course, with nearly 300 athletes wearing their schools colors. Recent conference champions Florida State (ACC), North Florida (Atlantic Sun) and host Samford (Southern Conference). Memphis will also see some familiar faces on in the women's side of the coin. Conference USA foes UAB (currently ranked fifth in the women's South Region by the USTFCCCA), UCF and Southern Miss will also be representing C-USA in Hoover.
The young women's cross country squad that will represent the U of M in Hoover will be paced once more by freshmen. Ellen Kildal, the Skien, Norway native who paced the Lady Tigers at the C-USA Championships, and Jenny Johnston, from Middle Island, New York, have been the two leaders of this season's squad and will need continued strong performances this weekend.
Junior Jasmine Darden has provided depth and experience on a team that at times was short on both in 2010. Darden was the second Lady Tiger to cross the finish line at the C-USA Championships, the third year in a row Darden was the second-best Lady Tiger in the field.
"Going to the Regional meet this year gives us experience that we will need for next year on the women's side," said Clark. "We'll benefit down the road from being here this weekend."