Nov. 7, 2011
OREM -- The Utah Valley University men's and women's cross country teams will feel right at home when they compete in the NCAA Regionals Saturday.
The event, hosted by BYU, will be competed at East Bay Golf Course, which is located just a few miles from campus.
UVU is one of 16 teams vying for two automatic qualifying spots for NCAA Nationals, which will be held Nov. 19 in Terre Haute, Ind., while the Top 20 individual finishers in each race automatically qualify.
"We're trying to hold everyone togther (health-wise). It's been a long, tough season," UVU cross country coach Scott Houle said. "For the most part, we're healthy."
Among the 16 teams competing are third-ranked BYU, fourth-ranked Colorado and 12th-ranked Northern Arizona.
"To even be competitive we'll have to run as a team and everyone will have to run 15 seconds faster than they have ever run," said Houle, who likens the Mountain region teams to ACC basketball teams.
"It (the ACC) is a deep and competitive (basketball conference), and it's like our cross country region. We have some of the best teams in the country. It's loaded."
Cliff Nielson, Trevor Sharp, Tim Rowberry, Macy Butterfield, Mike Felix, Alexander Dutton and Chris Claflin make up the seven-member men's team, while Shelise Walker, Ivie Gonsalves, Ally Deeter, Kalina Zufelt-Clegg, Jessica Wilding, Mackenzie Roberts and Stephanie Talbot make up the seven-member women's team.
For the men, Nielson and Rowberry are no strangers to the event. Nielson finished 66th last year at the event held at Rose Park Golf Course in Salt Lake City, while Rowberry finished 79th. For the women, Walker, who finished in 31st last year, is the only member of the women's team to compete in the race last year.
Houle said Nielson and Walker, who have been team leaders all year, have a chance to finish in the Top 20, but he said it will take a near-perfect race.
"They'll have to run flawless and aggressive races," he said. "It's going to be a long shot for them, but they are competitive enough to try it."
Last year, Joshua McCabe, who is redshirting this season, became the first UVU cross country runner to qualify for nationals.
The men's race gets underway at 11 a.m. (MT) and the women's race will begin at 12:15 p.m.
The races results can be followed here.