Charlotte, N.C.- Coming off a top three finish at the Royals Challenge last weekend. The 49ers men’s and women’s cross country teams head to Terre Haute, Ind. to compete in the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet on Saturday, Oct. 19.
The field at Pre-Nationals features many of the top teams around the country boasting 52 regionally ranked squads of the field of 75. Equally on the women’s side, 60 regionally ranked squads out of the field of 86. There will be four races at Pre-Nationals and seeded by rankings. Unfortunately, Charlotte is not ranked and will compete in the White race for both squads.
Charlotte will compete against a number of the Conference USA squads for the first time. Conference USA foes such as: UTSA, UTEP, Tulsa, Rice, East Carolina and UAB will be competing on the women’s side. For the men’s squad they will get to see East Carolina, Tulsa, and UTEP from the Conference USA. “There is going to be a lot of talent from across the nation at this meet,” said Coach Ed Schlichter.
The NCAA Pre-Nationals meet is one of the largest cross country meets in the nation that features only Division I programs. “To be in that kind of atmosphere, and to be one of those teams there, it is huge for us. Just the experience alone will better prepare us for conference and regionals.” Charlotte competed in Paul Short Run a couple weeks ago that was similar to Pre-Nationals but featured teams from all Divisions. “I think we are bringing in a bit more confidence coming in on both sides.”
Charlotte will also square off against many of the teams from the southeast region. Virginia, William and Mary, Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky, UNCG, Elon and Virginia Tech will be competing on the women’s side. Duke, Kentucky, Liberty, Furman, Virginia Tech, William and Mary, and Wake Forest are featured on the men’s side.
Charlotte finished behind Duke on the men’s side last week at the Royals Challenge. Tiffany Lang and Zach Greth picked up Conference USA Athletes of the Week for their performances last week. It was the first time that a program had swept weekly honors this season.
With the field being so large and falling behind at Paul Short Run the game plan will be different this time around. Coach Ed Schlichter is coaching this meet with experience after competing at this meet as an athlete in the early 2000’s. “You have to have an understanding that you are going out hard, you are going to be in pain, and you have to hold on. Whoever holds on for the longest amount of time will have the best race.”
Charlotte will look to gain experience as they head to Denton, Texas on November 2 for the Conference USA championships.