Runners hope for national bid

The invitational cross country meets have come to a close and the women’s team is preparing for the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet this Saturday in Terra Haute, Ind.After placing in the top three team spots in their prior meets at North Texas and the Oklahoma State Cowboy Jamboree in Stillwater, Okla., the Frogs will enter their largest race this season with hopes of better placement than last year’s 25th-place finish out of 34 teams.

The Pre-Nationals is used to set the team qualifiers for the NCAA Championship race that takes place November 20.

“We are hoping for an at-large bid to the NCAA Championship this year,” freshman Dani Selner said.

At-large bids are given to teams based on their performances in the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet as well as in regional competitions throughout the season. A committee of coaches from various track and field programs determines which teams should qualify to compete in the NCAA Championships, according to the 2006 NCAA Division I Cross Country Coaches Memorandum. The memo contains the latest coaches information regarding NCAA Championship regulations for the fall 2006 cross country season and was written Aug. 30.

“We need to run really well, and we want to finish third in our region this year,” head coach Eric Heins said.

TCU is part of the NCAA South Central Region, which is composed of schools from Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, Heins said.

According to the 2005 NCAA South Central Regional meet scorecard, TCU finished eighth in a field of 10 teams.

Leading the women’s team through the season are senior Calanda Stewart and freshman Carlene Mayfield.

“They both create competition and a higher level of excellence on the team,” Lisa Baity, a freshman teammate said.

Selner said the skill levels of Stewart and Mayfield encourages other members on the team.

“I usually feel really competitive when I’m training next to Carlene,” Selner said.

Stewart’s top five placements in all of her races this season put her in a position for success in Indiana, Heins said.

“She is running amazing right now, and she should go in and go for a top 25 placement,” Heins said.

The team may be hindered at the Pre-Nationals as Mayfield has been fighting a sinus infection that might affect her performance Saturday, Heins said.

Heins continues to push the runners this season and has been focusing on speed workouts in recent practices involving 1,000-meter repeats, Selner said.

The purpose of the speed and interval workouts for the team are to improve the runners’ turnover and recovery times to help prepare for the Pre-Nationals, Selner said.

In addition to helping prepare the team for the conference meet, the Pre-Nationals are a way for team members to gauge how they will perform against other teams in their region, Heins said.