Air Force's historic 2016 cross country season comes to a close this weekend, as the 20th-ranked women and junior Andrew Johnston travel to Terre Haute, Ind., for the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. The meet, which marks the first team appearance at a NCAA DI Championship for any Air Force women's team, will take place on Saturday, Nov. 19.
The 2016 NCAA Championships will take place on the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course at the Wabash Family Sports Center in Terre Haute, Indiana. The women's 6K race will kick off the day at 11:00 a.m. (ET), while the men's 10K will get underway at 12:00 p.m. Live stats will available via RecordTiming.com, while FloTrack will be broadcasting the race through their FloPro service.
WHO TO WATCH | THE AIR FORCE LINEUP
The women's NCAA squad will consist of Lindsey Blanks, Katie Burnham, Shanna Burns, Carina Gillespie, Lindy Long, Samantha Skold, Jaci Smith and Giulianna Vessa, while Andrew Johnston will represent the men's team.
WHERE TO FIND THEM
The women are scheduled to start their 6K race out of Box 22, while Andrew Johnston will begin his 10K race in Box 40 with individuals from Indiana and San Jose State.
A total of 31 teams were selected into both the men's and women's championship races. The top two teams from each of the nine regionals earned an automatic bid into the NCAA meet, while 13 additional teams earned at-large selections. Thirty-eight individuals were also selected into each championship race by finishing within the top 25 of their region.
BY THE NUMBERS | WOMEN
The 2016 NCAA Cross Country Championships marks the first time since Air Force joined the Division I level that the Falcons have qualified a full women's team to the national meet. The Falcons had previously sent just two individual runners to the Division I championships (Brandess Pardue, 2001; Hannah Everson, 2015), although they were longtime participants at the NCAA Division II Championships.
BY THE NUMBERS | MEN
The men have represented the Academy at the NCAA Cross Country Championships a total of 28 times, sending a full squad 14 times and being represented by individual runners at an additional 14 meets. the men's history book boasts six top-10 team finishes, as well as the 1968 national champion (Mike Ryan) and the top American finisher (Eric Mack, third overall) in 1995.
AIR FORCE ALL-AMERICANS
A total of 11 Falcons have captured All-America honors (14 occurrences) at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, while 14 women earned All-America status at the DII and AIAW levels (28 times). The most recent Air Force All-Americans were Kyle Eller and Hannah Everson, who both earned the honor in 2015.
THIS LOOKS FAMILIAR
Air Force has already raced at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course this season, when it competed in the Pre-National Invitational on Oct. 15. Backed by a 14th-place finish from Carina Gillespie, the women registered their highest Pre-Nats' finish ever (10th) and bettered six teams mentioned in that week's national rankings. Andrew Johnston, who ran an 8K course during his previous trip to Terre Haute, finished 33rd to lead the men to a seventh-place finish in the team standings -- the squad's highest finish since 2004 and a placement that bettered five nationally-mentioned teams.
THE NEXT COURSE
Although the cross country season will come to a close this weekend, the Falcons return to action next month with the start of the indoor track and field season. Air Force will host its annual Holiday Open on Friday, Dec. 9, at the Cadet Field House Indoor Track.