Nov. 13, 2011
BERKELEY - For the first time in 23 years, the California women's cross country team has earned a selection to the NCAA Championships. The Golden Bears received an at-large berth and will compete with 30 other schools for the national title on Monday, Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind.
Led by senior All-American Deborah Maier, a two-time West Regional runner-up and a 30th-place finisher at last year's NCAA meet, Cal will race at nationals for just the third time ever. The Bears were 15th in 1984 and placed ninth in 1988 in their only other appearances.
This season, Cal has ranked among the country's elite programs since it tied for first place at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis Sept. 24. The Bears came back to place seventh in a strong, 44-team field at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational Oct. 14.
Cal earned its highest ranking the history of the coaches' association poll when the Bears were rated 10th after the Griak Invite and held onto their ranking for more than a month. Cal fell to 26th after its seventh-place finish at the Pac-12 Championships. However, the Bears raced without Maier, who sat out with an ankle injury.
With Maier back in the lineup at the West Regional competition Saturday at Stanford, Cal secured its spot at NCAAs with a fifth-place showing. The finish tied with 2010 for the Bears' best result at regionals since the 1988 team took second. Maier was second in individual standings, with senior Chelsea Reilly posting a career-best ninth.
A total of seven Pac-12 schools earned invitations - Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Oregon, Stanford and Washington.
Cal's men just missed an at-large berth. After having qualified for three of the past four national meets, the Bears had two of their best races of the year at the Pac-12 and West Regional events - taking fifth in both - but they were one of last teams left out of the championship.
A total of 31 teams are in the NCAA field - the top two schools from each of nine regions across the country, plus 13 at-large programs. The race for the women's championship at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center in Terre Haute will get underway at approximately 10 a.m. PT. A live webcast of the championships will be broadcast from 9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. PT on ncaa.com. In addition, highlights from the championships will be included as part of the CBS NCAA Fall Seasonal Show scheduled to air on Saturday, Dec. 18 from 10-11 a.m. PT on CBS.
The following teams were selected to the NCAA Championships:
Men's Automatic Qualifying Teams Men's At-large Teams Brigham Young Cal Poly Colorado Columbia Eastern Kentucky Georgia Florida Michigan Florida State Minnesota Georgetown New Mexico Indiana Northern Arizona Iona Notre Dame North Carolina State Ohio State Oklahoma Princeton Oklahoma State Providence Portland Tulsa Stanford Washington State Syracuse Texas Texas A&M Villanova Wisconsin