Nov. 22, 2009
WACO, Texas – Making their seventh consecutive trip to the NCAA Cross Country Championships, Baylor’s women’s cross country team will compete in Terre Haute, Ind., on Monday, Nov. 23, with the women’s race set for 11:58 a.m. CT. Each race will be nationally televised on the Versus Network beginning with the men’s race at 11:08 a.m. CT. The NCAA will also be streaming the event live on the web at NCAA.com.
Led by the senior trio of All-American Erin Bedell, Nichole Jones, and Danielle Bradley, the Bears will look to improve on last year’s 19th-place team finish. Baylor is fresh off of a second-place showing at the NCAA South Central Regional in which all five top finishers earned all-region honors. Along with Bedell, Jones, and Bradley, sophomore Cate Westenhover and freshman Stephanie Morgan stepped up to earn the honor as well.
Entering the regional meet, Baylor’s only hope to keep the string of six consecutive NCAA Championships appearances alive was to finish in the top two in the team standings. With SMU and Arkansas each feeling the same pressure, the Bears responded with five runners placing in the top 15. Led by Bedell’s third-place finish, the Bears scored 54 points, 11 behind SMU, but 12 ahead of Arkansas.
“To me that’s a pretty big deal (to make seven in a row),” head coach Todd Harbour said. “This isn’t an easy championship to make, and it looked like there for awhile that we weren’t going to be able to pull it off. They knew what they had to do. It was an amazing regional meet with three teams going for it. Arkansas and us had to just get it done. They ran well and we were just a little bit better.”
Bedell, who earned All-America honors at last year’s NCAA Championship, has found her stride in 2009. She has led the Bears in each of the last three races, including an all-conference performance at the Big 12 Championships. Former track All-Americans Bradley and Jones have each been in the Bears’ top five in every race this season, along with Morgan. Westenhover, on the other hand, has progressed with each meet this season, culminating in a 10th-place finish at the regional meet.
“We ran very well at the regional race, and it still wasn’t our best,” Harbour said. “We feel like we can run a little better than that, hopefully we put it together at nationals. Right now, we are pretty much as healthy as we can be, and I think we are ready to go. We are excited and we don’t every take this opportunity for granted. We want to get up there and end this season on a good note.”
Four Big 12 women’s cross country teams and five men’s teams have qualified for the NCAA Championships. Baylor, Colorado, Iowa State and Texas Tech will compete in the women's race while Colorado, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas will run on the men's side. Eight individual student-athletes from non-qualifying teams were also selected to compete at the national level.