Nov. 14, 2013
• NCAA Great Lakess Regional Central
MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin women’s cross country team returns to the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course Friday for the 2013 NCAA Great Lakes Regional in hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2011.
The Badgers, who finished 17th at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational and tied for sixth at the Big Ten championship, have likely accumulated enough points for an at-large consideration if they finish the meet in the top five as a team.
To accomplish that goal, Wisconsin Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Mick Byrne believes his team must run an intelligent race.
“It is important for our women to seize the moment,” Byrne said. “For us, this is going to mean running smart enough, running well enough to get to the national championships. In order for us to do that we are going to have to have five girls running smart and running well and they all have to do it on the same day.”
Wisconsin will lean on junior Gabi Anzalone and sophomore Emma-Lisa Murphy to lead the way. Anzalone has experience running well at the regional meet, earning All-Great Lake Region honors in 2011 and 2012. Murphy will look to continue her impressive season thus far after her 17th-place finish at the conference meet earned her All-Big Ten honors.
“Certainly Gabi and Emma-Lisa have to cool their jets and understand that it is a 6K race, it’s not a 3K race,” Byrne said. “If they do that, they will do well.”
In addition, the Badgers will need significant contributions three other women in order to finish top five as a team.
“This team has to have five girls on the same page on the same day,” Byrne said. “Whether it is going to be Sarah Disanza, Kelly Whitley or Molly Hanson, someone has to step up. If they step up, we go (to the NCAA championship).”
Championship season requires athletes to be able to push themselves beyond their capabilities. Although this team is relatively young and inexperienced, Byrne believes a true leader will emerge and help guide UW to positive outcomes.
“Trying to find a real leader is an issue, but over the next couple of races that is going to take care of itself,” Byrne said. “You have to have a leader on the team. You have to have something that is going to step up that the rest of the team can look at and say ‘that is our go to person.’ Once you have that leader, everybody else understands their role. We’ve had too many girls competing against each other, instead of competing with each other and helping each other.”
According to Byrne, if the team can come together and run well as a unit, they have the ability to surprise some people.
“We're going to have to have five girls on the same page on the same day, and going to certainly have to finish in the top four or five teams,” Byrne said. “We certainly believe that's a possibility and looking forward to that opportunity.”
The six-kilometer race begins at 1:15 p.m. (CT).