Slippery Rock cross-country will host the NCAA Atlantic Regionals at home on Saturday at Cooper’s Lake Campground. They last hosted in November 2014.
Only seven girls per team are allowed to compete. For the Rock, it will be Courtney Group, Melissa Rains, Caitlyn Janeda, Makaila Banka, Matti Dunham, Alexis Swiergol and Kaylee Haberkam. The teams’ main goal is to beat out a couple teams and improve their overall rank during the race Saturday.
The girls have had the last two weeks off to prepare and hope to work as a team to move up in rank.
“These ladies agree that since the regional is on our course and since (we had) two weeks to focus on giving their ultimate effort that we can move up a few spots,” said SRU head coach John Papa.
“We are currently ranked 10th in the region. We feel we can move up two to three places. We are also hoping that we have at least two ladies make all-region,” Papa said. Earning an all-region title requires the runner to place top 30.
There are 40 invited teams, however not every team has five runners, so they cannot place as a team. Last year, the girls placed fifth. However, their top two 2015 runners have graduated since.
The NCAA Atlantic Regional teams include schools from PSAC, Mountain East and CIAA conferences.
“I think we had a good season so far,” Coach Papa said. He also hopes the team will “be 100 percent for NCAA Atlantic Regionals. The season goes so fast and we did not run that many races during the season.” He hopes now is the time for them to be in their best shape because this is the race that they have been training for.
Unless Slippery Rock earns a top 3 spot, this will be their last race of the season. The top 3 women’s teams qualify to Nationals in Florida.
The men’s 10,000-meter race will begin at 10:30am and the women’s 6,000-meter race will begin at 11:45 a.m.