Bulldogs Shine At NCAA Pre-National Meet
TERRE HAUTE, IND. - If Saturday's Pre-National Meet in Terre Haute is any indication, Butler should be poised for a strong NCAA showing in November. The Butler women's cross country team placed an eye-opening third overall in a field of 49 teams, while the men's squad finished 11th out of 52 teams in the competition held on the course that will host the NCAA Division I National Championship.
With an exceptionally strong showing, the women's team, currently ranked 20th in the nation, tallied 176 points in the 6k Blue Race, just 14 points off second-place Florida State, currently ranked second in the nation. Butler was also just 59 points behind winner and fifth-ranked Georgetown. The stellar performance led the Bulldogs past a number of nationally-ranked squads, including Virginia (ranked 16th), Oregon (ranked sixth), Michigan (ranked 14th), Colorado (ranked 12th), William and Mary (ranked 21st), Stanford (ranked 11th), and Princeton (ranked 23rd).
"We ran well," said head coach Matt Roe. "I had an idea of what we could run on that course, and we were actually pretty close. But we didn't really overachieve by any stretch of the imagination.
"The catch phrase is 'Solid is the new spectacular' – I felt like, if we were solid based on our fitness, we were gonna have a good day."
All-American Katie Clark led the team with a 10th-place individual finish in a time of 20:19.59. Junior Mara Olson was second for the Bulldogs, clocking 20:43.55 and finishing 23rd. Butler rookie Katie Good also advanced to the awards stand in 29th place with a time of 20:48.51. Sophomore Olivia Pratt and senior Kirsty Legg rounded out the scorers with times of 20:57.76 (41st) and 21:16.73 (73rd) respectively. Senior Shelbi Burnett finished in 255th place while freshman Colleen Weatherford was 267th.
On the men's side, Butler scored 444 points, placing them among the top 15 teams in the meet. Colorado won with a score of 90, while Oregon was runner-up with 113.
Junior Tom Curr led the team with an eighth place finish, completing the 8k course in a time of 23:40.10. Senior Tom Anderson climbed into the top 25 as well with a 25th place finish in a time of 23:57.54. Erik Peterson was the third runner for Butler, placing 46th with a time of 24:10.42. Junior James Martin, who finished 166th, and 199th-place Chris Kelsey clocked 25:01.78 and 25:11.15, respectively. Sophomore Keigan Culler finished in 266th place and classmate Luke Zygmunt was 293rd.
"It's all about confidence and consistency," Roe said, "and that goes from consistently racing to their ability and the way they approach the sport.
"We have some momentum… But in terms of the next few weeks, we're doing the same as always: looking to get better every day and keep moving forward."
The next meet for the Bulldogs is the Big East Conference Championship, which will be hosted by Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 2nd. After the Hoosier Invite on November 8th, post-season will be full-force, with Regionals taking place on November 15th and Nationals on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.