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Muhlenberg College

Friday, November 9, 2007

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muhlenberg to host cross country regional

It’s the biggest race of the year, both literally and figuratively.

More than 500 runners from 46 colleges are scheduled to line up when the Muhlenberg cross country teams host the NCAA Mideast Regional at Lehigh’s Goodman Campus tomorrow. The women’s race is scheduled to begin at 1:15, with the men’s race slated for an hour later.

The meet is a qualifier NCAA cross country for the NCAA Division III Championships, hosted by St. Olaf next Saturday. The top two teams, as well as the top seven individuals not on qualifying teams, automatically earn a spot at the national championships. The teams that finish third through fifth will be considered for at-large bids.

The meet favorites for the men are Haverford (ranked fourth in Division III) and Allegheny (12th), and for the women Dickinson (12th) and Haverford (16th).

Both Muhlenberg teams will be looking to continue their recent strong finishes at the regional meet. The women, ranked 10th in the region, have placed in the top 10 two of the last three years and just missed the other time, coming in 11th in 2005. The men tied their all-time best finish of fourth place last year and went on to receive a bid to the NCAA meet.

While this year’s squad may not duplicate the success of last year’s, the Mules want to end the season on a high note.

“I think we have yet to put together a race where all five of our guys ran well,” said junior Timothy Van Syckle. “This team has a lot of potential. I don’t think we’ve shown it yet, but I hope we do Saturday.”

Muhlenberg, ranked seventh in the region, finished fourth at the Centennial Conference Championships two weeks ago. Van Syckle and classmate David Chorney both earned all-region honors last year and will be shooting to earn individual berths to the NCAA Championships.

It will help that the Mule runners are familiar with the course. This will be the third time Muhlenberg is competing at Lehigh this season, and in both previous races Van Syckle and Chorney finished in the top 10 – albeit in smaller fields.

“The big thing is getting out in the first mile and not getting caught behind people,” said Van Syckle of running in a larger meet. “It’s pretty easy on Lehigh’s course because it’s so open the first mile.”

Click here for the regional site. Results are expected to be posted around 5:00.

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