Nov. 20, 2013
The 24th-ranked Air Force men's cross country team returns to the national stage this Saturday (Nov. 23), when it travels to Terre Haute, Ind., for the 2013 NCAA Division I National Cross Country Championships. The Falcons, making their first appearance as a team at the national meet since 2004, will compete in the 10K final at noon (ET).
The 2013 NCAA Division I National Cross Country Championships, hosted by Indiana State University, will take place on the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course at Wabash Valley Family Sports Center in Terre Haute, Ind. The men's 10K final is slated to begin at noon (ET), while the women's 6K race will follow at 1:15 p.m., approximately. A live broadcast of the national finals will be streamed on NCAA.com.
THE STARTING LINEUP
The Falcons will send the same seven runners that competed last week at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships - senior Isaiah Bragg, junior Riley Coates, sophomore Patrick Corona, junior Elliot Myers, senior Gavin Owens, senior Charlie Perkins and junior Zach Perkins. Sophomore Dan Caddigan will serve as the alternate.
The men's 31-team field includes automatic qualifiers from Arkansas, Colorado, Columbia, Eastern Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Northern Arizona, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Princeton, Stanford, Syracuse, Texas, Tulsa, Virginia, Villanova and Wisconsin, as well as at-large teams from Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, Dartmouth, Harvard, Indiana, Iona, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Portland and Providence. In addition, 38 individuals from non-qualifying teams will also compete in the national race.
The 2013 season marks the 14th time in program history that Air Force has qualified a full squad to the NCAA Cross Country Championships, joining teams from 1959, 1960, 1961, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1971, 1981, 1991, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2004. In addition, the men have sent at least one individual to the national meet in an additional 12 years. Highlighted by the program's best team finish (second) in 1967, the men have finished within the top 10 on six occasions. The men's history book boasts one national champion - Mike Ryan (1968), as well as the top American finisher (Eric Mack, third overall) at the 1995 meet.
HOW THEY GOT THERE
The men earned an at-large bid to the national championship meet after finishing fifth at the NCAA Mountain Regional on Nov. 15. Air Force, competing in one of the nation's strongest regions, finished fifth at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships on Nov. 15, bettering a pair of higher-ranked teams.
MEN MOVE UP TO 24TH IN LATEST COACHES' POLL
Following a strong regional finish, the men moved up five places to 24th in the USTFCCCA Coaches' Poll. The Falcons have received at least one vote in every poll this season - becoming one of just 27 programs in the country that can make that distinction. With 80 points, Air Force's current ranking is the squad's best since the second week of the 2005 season (21st).
TRIO EARNS ALL-REGION HONORS
Based on their top-25 finishes at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships on Nov. 15, Isaiah Bragg, Patrick Corona and Hannah Everson were named to the USTFCCCA Regional team. It is the first time since 2010 that three Falcons (two men, one woman) have earned all-region accolades.
BRAGG PACES FALCONS WITH SUB-30 TIME
Competing in cross country's first 10K of the year, Isaiah Bragg came in under the 30-minute mark for the first time in the last 18 years, as he clocked a career-best time of 29:49.6 to finish 13th - the program's best regional finish since 2010.
EVERSON EARNS WEEKLY DEPARTMENT AWARD
Following a strong performance at the regional championship meet, Hannah Everson was selected as the Air Force Athlete of the Week on Nov. 18. With a 20th-place finish at the regional meet, she became just the fourth member of the women's team to earn all-region honors. With a time of 21:06.6, Everson matched the best individual regional finish in Academy history, as Nicole Graham (2005) and Brandess Pardue (2001) also finished 20th at their respective regional meets.
MEN TAKE FIFTH AT NCAA REGIONAL
Backed by career-best times, all five scoring runners placed within the top 40 of the NCAA Mountain Region Championships, en route to a fifth-place finish in the team standings. In addition to Isaiah Bragg's 13th-place finish, Patrick Corona finished 21st in the field of 115 runners. Zach Perkins finished 33rd, while Charlie Perkins and Gavin Owns rounded out the Falcons' scoring field with respective 38th- and 39th-place finishes.
WOMEN MAKE HISTORY WITH FIFTH-PLACE FINISH
Backed by four top-50 finishes, the women's team finished fifth at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships - the best regional finish ever at the Division I level. The team's placement marked just the fifth top-10 finish at the regional meet since joining DI in 1996. The finishes of Hannah Everson (20th), Annette Eichenberger (26th), Lindy Long (43rd), Heather Connick (44th) and Samantha Skold (52nd) counted toward the team's history-making finish.
THE NEXT COURSE
Although the cross country season comes 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. 13, at the Cadet Field House.