Cross country heads to Tuscaloosa for NCAA Regionals

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Derik Wuchte

Southern’s cross country team will be taking part in the NCAA Regionals this weekend after receiving an invitation based on their performance at the Sun Belt Championship. The team placed sixth out of 11 teams, earning the privilege to compete at regionals in Tuscaloosa, AL.

“It signifies a change in the direction of the program–a change in the culture and how the program is being viewed,” said Holmes. “For us to be going to regionals, and for the ladies to be running as well as they’ve been running, it shows that we’re not quite where we want to be, but we’re definitely heading in the right direction.”

Last year’s team finished 10th at the Sun Belt Championship. Their improvement this year has been a positive sign as the team recorded one of their top conference finishes in program history last weekend.

“We were predicted to take 10th in the conference. We ended up taking sixth and we were five points away from taking fifth,” said Holmes.

“Looking at these girls and looking at the way they push each other, the way they gel together, the way they’ve committed themselves to the training, on-and-off the track, I think it’s really a testament.

The team is very young and composed of some international athletes. They have approached this year with a different mindset and their hard work has shown off.

“I can’t speak to how it was in the past, or what other teams have done, but I know this team has skin in their game,” said Holmes.

With the NCAA Regionals days away, the team is looking forward to seeing something new and competing against some of the best teams around.

“The biggest thing that we’re looking for out of this meet is experience,” said Holmes. “We’re going to go and see. We’re going to be on the same line as some of the bigger schools in the state–some of the best cross country programs in the nation.

“I’m looking for some fast times. It is our first 6k. For a lot of ladies, it’s their first 6k they’ve ever run. It’s seeing where we want to be and where we want to go for the next couple of years.”

Staying in that mindset of competing strongly and finishing well has elevated the team’s performance. They have been aware of themselves throughout the season and have constantly seen the type of team they want to be. Regionals will be an eye-opening experience for them and it will give the Eagles a lot of hope for the future.

“The “building” mindset has been what we’ve worked on since we set foot on campus,” said Holmes. “You don’t build a house in a day. What we’re really here to do is not just build a program, not just build a winning team, but to build a dynasty–build a legacy.”

“This isn’t necessarily a Cinderella story where we come in and win everything. Track and field, cross country; running is about steady progression. it’s only a matter of time before we become the best.”

Southern will compete in the NCAA Regionals in Tuscaloosa, AL on Friday, Nov. 13 at 9 a.m.