Bulldogs Seek National Bids At Great Lakes Regional

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. – The Butler men's and women's cross country teams, looking to build on a pair of conference titles, will be competing for a berth in the NCAA National Cross Country Championship when they square off against some of the top teams in the Midwest at the 2012 NCAA Great Lakes Regional on Friday, Nov. 9, in Madison, Wis.  The women's 6K race starts at noon (CT), followed by the men's 10K race at 1:15 p.m.

Butler will be among 29 men's teams and 33 women's teams competing in the regional championship at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course.  The men's field features defending champion and No. 5-ranked Wisconsin.  Also competing are No. 12 Indiana and No. 30 Notre Dame.  The women's field has No. 16 Michigan State, No. 18 Michigan and No. 30 Toledo.

The Butler men feature four runners from last year's team, which placed sixth in the Great Lakes Regional.  Leading that group is junior Ross Clarke, who placed 13th and earned an at-large bid to the national meet a year ago.  Also returning are senior Kevin Oblinger and sophomores Harry Ellis and Tom Curr.  They'll be joined this year by junior Tom Anderson and freshman Erik Peterson.

Butler's women feature three runners from last year's team, which placed tenth at the Great Lakes Regional, plus three additional runners who competed in the 2010 Great Lakes Regional.  Junior Shelbi Burnett was Butler's top finisher a year ago, crossing the finish line in 12th place, and she's joined by senior Kaitlyn Love and sophomore Mara Olson.

Also on hand are senior Lauren McKillop and juniors Katie Clark (left) and Kirsty Legg, all of whom ran in the regional meet two years ago.  The seventh Butler runner competing this weekend will be freshman Olivia Pratt.

Four members of the Butler women's team, Clark (2012), Legg (2010), McKillop (2009) and Burnett (2011), have won conference individual cross country championships!

The Bulldogs are coming off a sweep of the men's and women's championships at the Atlantic 10 Conference Meet.  Clark led the women's field with a first place individual finish, while Anderson led Butler's men with a third place finish.  Peterson was named A-10 men's Most Outstanding Rookie, while Pratt claimed the same honor in the women's competition.

Butler's women are currently ranked sixth in the Great Lakes Region, while the Butler men are ranked seventh.

The top two teams in both the men's and women's races earn an automatic berth in the NCAA national meet.  The 2012 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championship will be held in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 17.