The Virginia men’s and women’s cross country teams both automatically qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championships at the NCAA Southeast Regional meet on Friday.
Running on their home course at Panorama Farms, the Cavalier women took first and the men finished second in the regional. The top two teams automatically qualify for the National Championships, which will be held Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind.
This is the sixth time both the Virginia men and women qualified for the NCAA Championships in the same season, and is the first time since 2008 that both teams qualified automatically.
The 11th-ranked Cavalier women, who entered the meet as the top-ranked team in the region, took the crown with 57 points. William & Mary was second with 69 points to also automatically qualify for the national meet.
"I know we've been training really hard and doing the little things, so if we could just do that, I knew we were going to do really well," freshman Maria Hauger said after the race. Hauger finished ninth in the race, and was the second Cavalier to cross the finish line.
Senior Barbara Strehler led the 'Hoos, placing third overall in a time of 20:08.7. "We came out here, ran to win, ran to lay it all out on the line and I feel like we all did," Strehler said after the win.
In all, six Cavaliers took home all-region honors with top-25 finishes in the 6k women’s race.
"We went to war two weeks ago at the ACC meet," said head coach Todd Morgan. "For them to regroup and get composed and come back out here and qualify automatically against a good William & Mary team and some other ones, I was really happy with that."
The Cavalier men placed second with 96 points. Eastern Kentucky, ranked No. 17 nationally, took the title with 58 points.
The 'Hoos were led by three all-region performers, who placed in the top 25 of the 10k race. Sophomore Kyle King was the top Cavalier finisher, crossing in 28:53.7 for fifth place. Senior Thomas Porter was ninth and redshirt-freshman Zach Herriott was 18th.
"We certainly got beat early on in the season by some teams that we faced today, and we had to put away the doubts that might have arisen from having lost really poorly early on, and kept plugging away with the training," Porter said.
"It's just an amazing thing to come out here and just to show everybody in front of our home course, our hometown, what we've been doing all year and show our progress," added King.