Cross Country will be racing for NCAA Championships team berths Friday morning

Christopher Walsh

Staff member
Nice that the race will be in Huntsville, but too bad it'll be chilly in the morning.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Alabama men’s and women’s cross country teams are set to race for an NCAA Championships berth at Friday’s NCAA South Region Championships in Huntsville, Ala. The women race at 8:30 a.m., while the men toe the line at 9:30 a.m. at the John Hunt Cross Country Course.

Both the men and women raced on the John Hunt Course earlier in the season, with the men taking the team title and the women placing third. There were no regional championships last year due to COVID-19 schedule interruptions.

The top two team finishers from each regional automatically advance to the NCAA Championships, which will be held Saturday, Nov. 20 in Tallahassee, Fla., with the rest of the field being filled by at-large bids. After teams have been determined, 40 additional individuals per gender are selected to compete based on finish at their respective regional championships (38 are automatic selections; two are at-large).

Head Coach Dan Waters Said

“There’s a lot on the line at this meet. The region meet is probably the toughest of the season because of what’s at stake. Both our men and women have a good shot to advance to the NCAA Championships, so we’re going to go out there and leave it all on the course. I think it helps us that we raced on this course back in September, but in the end, this is a tough region and we’ll have to go out there and battle to reach our team goals.”

Racing in Huntsville

  • The women's NCAA South Regional lineup includes Flomena Asekol, Mercy Chelangat, Esther Gitahi, Leahrose Mami, Megan Patton, Jami Reed, Riley Schelp and Sophie Spada
  • The men's regional lineup is made up of Brady Barton, Carson Burian, Hillary Cheruiyot, Jack Hawes, Victor Kiprop, Eliud Kipsang, Gavin Saacke, Paul Selden and Jacob Wiggers
  • The women are led by Chelangat, the defending NCAA champion and two-time Southeastern Conference champion
  • The UA men are led by Kipsang, who won the 2021 SEC title, and Kiprop, who won the North Alabama Showcase on the John Hunt Course in September

Last Time Out

  • Alabama swept the individual titles at the 2021 Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championships in Columbia, Mo.
  • Mercy Chelangat won her second-consecutive league title, while Eliud Kipsang won the men's championship
  • Chelangat is the first member of the UA women's team to win back-to-back SEC titles and her win marks just the second time the Crimson Tide has won consecutive individual titles, with the first coming in 1987 and 1988
  • Chelangat's and Kipsang's wins also mark just the second time Alabama has won the men's and women's races in the same year, and the first time since 1988
  • Both Chelangat and Kipsang won with course records, with Chelangat becoming the first woman to cover the 6-kilometer Gans Creek Cross Country course in under 20 minutes (19:55.2), while Kipsang lowered the 8-kilometer course standard to 23:33.5
  • Over a rain-soaked course, the women finished third in the team race after tallying 91 points, while the men took fourth after totaling 132 points. In addition to Chelangat's win, Flomena Asekol took seventh, Amaris Tyynismaa was 8th, Esther Gitahi took 11th and Leahrose Mami rounded out the Tide's scoring five after taking 69th place
  • For the men, Kipsang was followed by Victor Kiprop in fourth, Hillary Cheruiyot in 22nd, Gavin Saacke in 55th and Carson Burian in 56th

SEC Honors

  • In addition to sweeping the individual titles at the 2021 Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championships, Alabama tallied four First Team All-SEC honors, two second-team nods and three Freshman All-SEC certificates, totaling a league-best nine accolades
  • This year's individual champions, Mercy Chelangat in a repeat win in the women's race, and Eliud Kipsang, both earned First Team All-SEC honors
  • Flomena Asekol earned first-team recognition for the women, while Victor Kiprop was first team for the men
  • Amaris Tyynismaa and Esther Gitahi both earned second-team accolades following the women's race
  • The Crimson Tide also made up nearly half of the men's Freshman All-SEC squad with three , including Kiprop, Hillary Cheruiyot and Gavin Saacke
  • Prior to the SEC Championships, Chelangat was voted the women's SEC Cross Country Scholar-Athlete of the Year by the league's coaches
  • Chelangat is the first member of the UA women's team to earn the academic honor and the only runner in SEC history to both win an SEC title and earn SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors in women's cross country