MT Women's XC to Compete at NCAA Regional

Blue Raiders travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala.

November 14, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee women's cross country team will compete in the NCAA Regional in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Friday morning at 11:15 a.m. The Blue Raiders will be one-of-46 teams competing, and one-of-three Conference USA teams in action, FIU and Florida Atlantic being the others.

The women's teams will run a 6K race at the Harry Pritchett Running Park, a course that has featured numerous SEC Championships and NCAA Regional Championships. The last regional was held in 2011, and has also been the host site in 2001, 2004 and 2009.

In order to qualify for the NCAA Championships, a team must be one of the top two teams from each of the nine NCAA Regional Championships to gain an automatic bid. Also, an additional 13 women's team will receive at large bids on Saturday.

Also, the top four runners that are not on the top two regional teams will be selected to participate in the NCAA Championships, but must finish in the top-25 of the regional.

The Blue Raiders will run seven student-athletes: senior Autumn Gipson, senior Tressanique Hampton, senior Rachel Islam, sophomore Lucy Kapkiai, freshman Jackline Kiprono, sophomore Julia Kitevski and junior Hannah Northam. Each runner has participated in at least 5-of-6 races for MT this season, including four that have participated in every race.

After running at the C-USA Championship Nov. 2, the women were ranked 14th in the NCAA South Regional Poll, the first time in school history.

Gipson competed in all six events so far in 2013, consistently finishing as the third-place runner for MT. Her best finish came at the Front Runner Invitational, taming the two-mile course in 11:33.14 for eighth place. Gipson's best 5K time came at the Commodore Classic Sept. 14. She completed the course in a time of 18:45.84 for 59th.

Hampton has finished in the top-5 for MT in every race she participated in, missing the Commodore Classic. Her best finish came at the Power Ade Invitational and the Front Runner Invitational. She finished 16th in both races, running the courses in 12:35.01 and 11:52.93, respectively.

Islam, like Hampton, had her best finishes at the PowerAde and Front Runner, placing 17th in both events. Her best 5K time of the season came at the C-USA Championship. Islam ran the course in 19:45.39.

Kapkiai, who after missing the first race of the season, has finished in the top two for Middle Tennessee in every race, including a second place finish at the Front Runner Invitational. Her best 5K performance also came at the C-USA Championship, placing 12th with a time of 17:46.35, the best time for MT in 2013.

Kiprono has competed in all events for MT in 2013, including two finishes as the top runner at the Belmont Invitational and Power Ade Invitational. Like many of her teammates, her two best finishes came at the Power Ade and Front Runner, finishing fourth in both races. Kiprono finished only two spots behind Kapkiai at the C-USA Championship. She placed 14th with a time of 17:47.44, her best 5K time of the year, by nearly 30 seconds; the next fastest time was at the Greater Louisville Classic Oct. 5, a race she finished in 18:16.19.

Kitevski completed all events for the Blue Raiders this season, including a 33rd place finish at the C-USA Championship. Her time of 18:24.91 at the C-USA Championship was her fastest this season on a 5K course. She had her best placement in the Power Ade and Front Runner, finishing 14th in both events.

Northam ran 5-of-6 races this season, missing the C-USA Championship. Her 21st place finish at the PowerAde Invitational was a personal best in 2013. Northam competed in three 5K races, with her fastest being at the Greater Louisville Classic, tallying a time of 21:29.44.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.