MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In the wake of its first victory of the year at the Penn State National last Friday, the West Virginia cross country team is ranked No. 18 in the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches of America (USTFCCCA) national poll released Tuesday.
Ranked No. 19 two weeks ago, the mark is the highest the Mountaineers have been ranked during the 2011 campaign. The WVU runners scored a season-best 45 points at the 6k course in University Park, Pa., topping Connecticut (70 points), No. 20 Penn State (77), No. 26 Duke (91) and 25 other schools.
“We are pleased with how the regular season portion of the year has gone,” says WVU coach Sean Cleary. “We are healthy as we look toward the championship races.”
At the Penn State race, redshirt senior Kate Harrison came in first place out of 268 runners in 20:50, followed closely by junior Kaitlyn Gillespie in second place in 20:53. Redshirt junior Sarah-Anne Brault (6th) and redshirt seniors Ahna Lewis (11th) and Kaylyn Christopher (25th) also scored team points.
West Virginia moved up one spot to No. 3 in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional standings released Monday, swapping with Penn State. Florida State takes over as the unanimous No. 1 team in the country after winning the Pre-National Invitational, while Washington climbed 22 spots to No. 2 after winning the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational over top-10 teams Villanova, Stanford, Syracuse, Iowa State, New Mexico, and Providence.
“The national rankings will become much more meaningful as conference weekend is upon us,” Cleary says. “No. 18 is nice enough for now, but unless a team is a top 10 program at the BIG EAST Championship, it will not finish in the top five of our league. I am very confident that our team understands this and is ready for the challenges that lie in front of us in two weeks.”
The BIG EAST Conference remains the top conference with seven squads in the national top 30, followed by the Pac-12 (6) and the ACC (5).
The Mountaineers next compete on Saturday, Oct. 29, at the BIG EAST Championship in Louisville, Ky.