Thirty-one teams will get the opportunity to compete at the NCAA Championship meet on November 22nd in Terre Haute, Indiana. In order to qualify for the meet, the Syracuse cross country teams will need to finish in the top 2 at this Friday's Northeast Regional Championship, or earn one of the 13 at-large bids. Judging by the predictions available at Letsrun.com, we should expect that both SU teams will be making the journey to Terre Haute.
The 3rd-ranked SU men's team is as close to a lock to qualify as possible, based upon their wins in Madison and at the ACC Championships. With a bid all but assured, this meet will be an opportunity for the coaches to finalize their roster for Terre Haute. With the 5th ranked Iona Gaels competing in NYC on Friday, it will also give SU an opportunity to face another top contender before Nationals. Right now, Iona is one of the teams along with Syracuse that I believe is chasing Colorado for the team title.
The Orange men will be looking to win their 4th Northeast Regional title in the last 5 years and maintain momentum heading into the NCAA Championship. This is also an opportunity for Martin Hehir to add to his resume with an individual win. Hehir's last race at Van Cortlandt Park was his 2012 Big East title winning performance, and he's expected to be one of the favorites on Friday.
Syracuse's 22nd-ranked women's squad will face a deeper field as they try to secure the automatic qualifier. The women will battle ranked opponents Iona (17th) and Dartmouth (23rd) along with Boston College and Providence, who are just outside the top 30. The Orange will need to rebound from the disappointment at the ACC meet and turn in a strong performance at Van Cortlandt Park. As we've said throughout the year, the women need to get their 3-5 runners closer to Margo Malone and Jesse Petersen. If this happens, they should finish ahead of BC and punch their ticket to Terre Haute.