Nov. 13, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - For the first time since 2004, the Alabama men's cross country team is hosting the NCAA South Region Championships. The races will be held at Harry Pritchett Running Park in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Saturday, Nov. 14. The men's 10,000 meter race is slated for a 10:00 a.m. start.
The men return to the region meet as two-time defending champions and have won three of the past four titles. They are also coming off back-to-back SEC Championships (2008, `09).
The top 25 individual in each race will earn All-South Region honors. The top two teams will automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships and the next four individual finishers not on those teams will advance as well. A team must finish in the top four to have a chance at a wild card berth to the championship meet.
Results will be posted prior to the awards ceremonies between the clubhouse and the PA tent. They will also be available at RollTide.com and CFPITiming.com after the meet.
SQUADS WITH AN EARLY LOOK:
Teams that competed at the Crimson Classic on Sept. 18 were able to get an idea of how the region course would be run. Besides the obvious Alabama men, other squads that previewed the course included Auburn, Belmont, Chattanooga, East Tennessee St., Georgia Tech, Samford, Tennessee and Troy.
NATIONALLY RANKED TEAMS:
The USTFCCCA released the Week 6 Coaches' Poll last week and the SEC is represented by six schools - three men's and three women's teams. The NCAA South Region Championships will feature the No. 6 Alabama and No. 25 Auburn men as they go head to head for the fourth time this season in the men's 10,000 meter race - Alabama defeated Auburn in the previous three meetings. ACC opponent Florida State is the other ranked conference foe coming in at No. 21 in the polls.
CRIMSON TIDE IN THE RANKINGS:
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Week 6 Rankings were the last released rankings before the region meets. Alabama's men rank first in the South Region. The men are also ranked sixth in the national rankings.
Two weeks ago, the Alabama men claimed their second consecutive SEC Cross Country Championship and third title in school history - the other title in 1973. The Crimson Tide snuck by long-time conference powerhouse Arkansas by a score of 56-61. The Tide placing all five scoring runners in the top 17 with their top four men earning All-SEC honors. The men snapped Arkansas' consecutive conference title streak of 34 (dating back to the Southwest Conference) last season and became the first program to repeat other than Arkansas this season since Tennessee did so in 1989-90.
NCAA SOUTH REGION CHAMPIONS:
Over the past decade, the Alabama men have been the dominant force in the South Region winning six championships since 1999, including the three of the last four (2005, `07 & `08) and turning in runner-up team finishes two of the remaining four years they did not win. The Crimson Tide have had their top five runners garner All-South Region honors in three of the past four years in 2005, `07 and `08. Alabama is predicted to repeat as region champions in 2009, according to the USTFCCCA Coaches' Poll. The Tide has not won three straight titles since 1999-01.
ALABAMA MEN RECENT HISTORY:
The Crimson Tide is coming off back-to-back top 10 finishes at the NCAA Championships including its highest finish in school history of sixth in 2007. Alabama has also claimed the South Region Championship three of the past four years with a runner-up finish the year they did not win. The Tide won the elusive SEC Championship in back-to-back years as well (2008, `09).
Joe Walker ACCOLADES:
Men's cross country coach Joe Walker is in his 10th season at the helm of the distance program at Alabama. Including this year, Walker has been named SEC Coach of the Year three times (2001, `08, `09) and South Region Coach of the Year four times (2000, '01, '07, '08). He led the Tide to its third SEC Championship in school history this year as well as five South Region titles including two runner-up finishes. Walker also led Alabama to its highest national ranking in school history in 2009 (3rd) after leading them to a preseason ranking of fifth in 2008 (highest ranking at the time for Alabama).
The Alabama men return three of its top five from the 2008 SEC Championship squad. All three (Tyson David, Emmanuel Bor, Andrew Kirwa) were named All-SEC and All-South Region last year.