IOWA CITY, Iowa, Sporting Alert – Oklahoma State men’s cross country team will look to capture yet another NCAA Midwest Regional crown when it lines up on the Ashton Cross Country Course on Friday.
Oklahoma State swept the NCAA Midwest Regional men’s and women’s team titles last year.
The women’s 6,000-meters begins at 12:00pm ET with the men’s 10,000-meters going off at 1:00pm.
The Cowboys head into Iowa City for the Midwest Regional championship with a dominating record in recent years, having won the last five titles in a row and 13 titles overall since 1997.
Dave Smith’s team, which is yet to taste defeat this season from its limited schedule, is coming off a confident performance at the end of last month when it captured a ninth successive Big 12 title to remain top of the Midwest Regional rankings.
The Cowboys, who is ranked No. 9 nationally, are expected to win a berth to the NCAA National Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana, but want to achieve their goal with the smallest of efforts.
“We want to get through to the National Championship,” OSU head coach Smith said.
“We want to get to the National Championship feeling like we’ve got some running left in our legs, but at the same time, we want to win the region.
“We’re undefeated so far this year, we want to keep that going. It’s another title that we want to win.”
Oklahoma State will suit up against teams such as Iowa, Tulsa, Oklahoma and Kansas, but it’s Iowa State coach Smith is fearing the most.
After losing both his shoes and recovering to finish third overall at the Big 12 championships, junior Hassan Abdi is ready for a much smoother race for the Pokes on Friday and he is expected to be supported by Luis Martinez, Josh Thompson, Anthoney Armstrong and Christian Liddell.
“Iowa State is a potential top-10 team at the National Championship. They’re a team that took it to us at Big 12s,” he said.
“It was nip and tuck down that last 600 meters – I wasn’t sure if we were going to win or not. I imagine it will be very similar.”
Smith has warned his athletes against feeling over confident.
“What I’ve been stressing to the guys is that we cannot take this lightly,” the veteran coach revealed. “We can’t assume we’re going to Nationals, which is sometimes the assumption.
“Last year, in the middle of the race we realized we might have been in some trouble, so I think we hit the panic button and guys ran a lot harder than what we would have liked.
“We ended up winning the region and we made it through, but we spent a lot of our capital for the National Championship on that race.”
On the other women’s side, Big 12 champions Iowa State and defending champion Oklahoma State will go head-to-head again.
The No. 17 Cowgirls were beaten by the No. 12 Cyclones at the Big 12 Cross Country Championships, but are hoping to return the favour on Friday.
How Qualify For NCAA National Championship
The top-two teams from the NCAA Midwest Regional will join 16 others from the other eight regions as automatic qualifiers for the NCAA Championships on Nov. 19 in Terre Haute, Indiana at the Lavern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course.
In additional, the selectors will also hand out 13 at-large bids to the meet