15 Missourians qualify for 2012 NCAA DI Cross Country Nationals

15 Missourians qualify for 2012 NCAA DI Cross Country Nationals

After the regional championships on Friday, Saturday the full field of qualifiers for the 2012 NCAA Division I Cross Country National Championships were announced. The national meet will be held in Louisville for the first time at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park. Another first, the meet has been moved up from its traditional Monday before Thanksgiving to the Saturday before. 
In what would have to be a record or close to it, 15 athletes who prepped at Missouri High Schools have qualified for nationals. Several others are on the rosters or alternates for teams that have qualified. 

Five Missouri women have qualified and all five will be joined by their teams. In the Northeast Region, Emily Sisson placed 6th at the regional meet helping her Providence team to the team title and earning an automatic bid to nationals. The junior who spent her final two years of high school at Chesterfield’s Parkway Central High, helped her squad jump back up in the national rankings to eighth in the final poll. Sisson had sat out much of the season with small injury issues that crept up over the summer according to Coach Ray Treacy. Before any injury issues occurred Sisson was running great. She earned a fourth place finish in the 5,000 at last June’s NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and then after advancing to the finals of the 5k at the US Olympic Trials, finished 12th in 15:34 in the final. 
Sisson was reportedly unable to finish her first race of the season, the Big East Championships, but appears to be ready to help her team earn another top ten NCAA finish. Providence was left out of the NCAA Meet last year after Sisson was held out of regionals to fully recover from illness and the rest of the squad surprisingly had a tough race and didn’t earn an automatic or at-larger berth for the first time in twenty-plus years. As a freshman in 2010, Sisson raced to a 14th place finish for Wisconsin to earn All-American honors in her first college season.

Sisson’s former teammate at Parkway Central, Diane Robison will race with a current Arkansas teammate and former Neosho standout Jessica (Jackson) Kamilos Saturday. The pair helped the Ladybacks to runner-up honors at the SEC Meet and victory at the South Central Region in Fayetteville Friday. Robison is enjoying a successful season after sitting out most of her first two years with injuries. After an 11th place finish at SEC’s, Robison posted a 10th place finish at regionals. 

After a great freshman season, Jessica Jackson got the injury bug and missed most of the track season and appears to be rounding into shape just in time. After great SEC and regional races in 2011, Jackson capped her season with a 100th place finish at nationals to help Arkansas to a 14th place finish. Her finish earned her the chance to represent the USA Junior team that competed in the Great Edinborough Cross Country meet in Great Britain in early 2012 before injury. Jackson got married over the summer and is now Jessica Kamilos. After finishing in the 20’s at SEC’s, Kamilos earned All-Region honors with a 12th place finish.
Another Missouri has helped Arkansas’s to success this season. Rachel Carpino is just outside the Ladybacks top seven and is a former standout at Lee’s Summit North High School. Arkansas sits at 12th in the national rankings. 
The final two Missouri women hope to help their teams earn the top spot Saturday. Colleen Quigley, a Florida State sophomore and former star at Nerinx Hall, is one of the top guns for the number one ranked Seminoles. Quigley had an excellent freshman cross country campaign for the ‘Noles. Quigley placed 79th at nationals for Coach Karen Harvey, but it was a disappointing day as top-ranked FSU had to settle for the fourth place trophy instead of first. Quigley capped her rookie year with a 5th place finish in the steeplechase at the outdoor national meet to earn her first All-American honors. 

After declining a chance to compete at the Olympic Trials for a break and summer of work, Quigley hasn’t slowed down this fall. Quigley captured the Notre Dame Blue race title in late September and after a 6th place finish at Pre-Nationals, took 4th at the ACC meet. At regionals, Quigley finished 2nd, sandwiched between teammates as FSU totaled just 24 points in route to victory. Quigley will look for two pieces of hardware Saturday, an individual All-American top 25 trophy and the National Championship Team Trophy. 
Another 2nd year runner from St. Louis named Colleen hopes to help her squad land on the awards podium. Former Lindbergh High All-Stater Colleen Riley will try to help the Iowa State Cyclones women live up to their ranking. The ISU squad was ranked as high as 2nd in the national polls and captured the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational before taking the Big 12 crown. Riley, a redshirt freshman, has steadily moved her way up the depth chart and after placing 18th at Big 12’s, placed 51st at the Midwest Regional as ISU earned the victory, but not impressive enough to keep Oregon from jumping them in the national poll. Iowa State is ranked third.
Ten Missouri men will race in the 10k championship race. That number includes several former and current teammates, including two fifth-year seniors who have transferred for graduate school who will face their former teams and former Missourian teammates. 
Arkansas’ Eric Fernandez looks to close out his Razorback cross country career with a bang. The fifth-year senior and former state champion for Parkway West and coach Dale Shepherd, is looking for a second straight All-American cross country honor. Fernandez placed 38th at last year’s meet while running alone. After a third place finish at the South Central Region last year the Hogs were left at home without an at-large bid, the first time in a long time that Arkansas didn’t qualify. This year Fernandez and teammates earned at automatic berth with a runner-up finish in Fayetteville last week. Fernandez placed 8th as the 10th ranked Razorbacks finished behind 5th ranked Texas. Fernandez helped his squad to their 20th SEC title in 22 chances last month, as the 2011 SEC individual champion placed third this year. Before that Fernandez raced to an 8th place finish at Wisconsin, as Arkansas’ top runners skipped the Chili Pepper home meet to make sure they earned team points that decide the at-large NCAA bids. Arkansas isn’t deep but they have a great 1-2-3, and a solid top five. Arkansas dropped a spot to 11th in the final national rankings. 

Two other Missourians who ran at last year’s championships will race Saturday. Caleb Hoover, the former College Heights Christian star will try to improve upon last year’s 177th place finish as a freshman for Northern Arizona.  After a solid 138th place finish at the Wisconsin Adidas finish last month, Hoover helped the Lumberjacks to victory at the Big Sky Conference meet with a 7th place finish. At the Mountain Regional, Hoover and teammates surprised Colorado and BYU to take the title. Hoover place 13th to earn All-Region honors. The win helped NAU jump from 18th to 10th in the coaches poll. Hoover has proven he’s more than a miler, a distance he had success at as one of the few Missourians to run 4:15 or better for the 1600 as a high school sophomore. 

Sam Masters will be racing in his second straight NCAA cross championship. The former Hickman High star stepped in the lineup at nationals last year for Tulsa to replace Danny Thater, who was in the lineup for regionals. Masters placed 221st in the big 250-plus field on a super humid Monday in Terre Haute last November. After graduation, the fourth-year junior transferred to Penn State to begin his Masters err…graduate program. After a strong 17th place finish at the Greater Louisville Classic in late September, an illness kept Masters from finishing at the Wisconsin Adidas meet.

Masters bounced back with a solid 39th place finish at the loaded Big 10 Meet. And last week at the
Mid-Atlantic Regional, Masters finished 12th to earn an automatic bid to nationals. Masters will race against his former team in 12th ranked Tulsa, including two former Missouri teammates.
Another fifth-year senior who transferred after graduation, who will square off against his former team is Adam Behnke. The former Lutheran South High standout, has moved on to graduate school at Indiana after four years at Columbia. Behnke enjoyed a year with fellow St. Louisan Daniel Everett last year. The pair were part of Columbia’s super group of milers that came up just short of the 2012 Penn Relays 4xMile title. Behnke, who has been joined by sister Amand on the team at IU, will try to help the Hoosiers improve on their 24th national ranking.

After a solid 128th place finish at the Wisconsin meet, Behnke had a great race at Big 10’s. Behnke finished 27th as the Hoosiers placed third. In Behnke’s first 10k ever, Adam finished 51st at the Great Lakes Regonional as IU finished 3rd and earned at at-large national berth.

Behnke’s former teammate at Columbia Daniel Everett makes his first NCAA nationals appearance. The sophomore and former All-American miler at Westminster Christian Academy has helped Columbia to their second straight NCAA appearance. Columbia sits at 20th in the rankings, but moved up to 10th after tying Arkansas for fifth at the loaded Wisconsin meet. After solid finishes at Greater Louisville and Wisconsin: 33rd and 108th, Everett placed 16th at the Ivy League Meet and just missed All-Region honors with his 27th place finish at the Northeast Regional last week. That finish helped the Lions to a runner-up finish and earned them an automatic bid.

Also racing at the Northeast Region Meet was Harvard junior Maksim Korolev. The former Harrisonville High star steadily if not slowly adjusted to the busy college life of an Ivy Leaguer and has exploded this season. Korolev, who went sub 9:00 for a full two miles as a senior in June of 2010, has dropped the familiar head band he wore as prep. Korolev started the 2012 XC campaign with a victory in the Harvard, Yale, Dual Meet. He followed that with an excellent 20th place finish at Wisconsin running 23:43. After a 22nd place finish at the Ivy League Meet, Korolev stormed back with a runner-up finish last week at regionals in 30:16. The tall and lanky Korolev earned at automatic bid after helping his team to 6th place at regionals. While Korolev prepped in Missouri, he and his family came from Russia.

Another Missour transplant from across the world is Jannis Topfer. The German native came on the Missouri running scene as a tall, skinny standout for MICDS in St. Louis. After college competiton in the Netherlands, Topfer returned to the states last year at the University of Texas. Eligibility issues kept him from NCAA competition though not from running success. Topfer was one of the top finishers at the collegiate club championships last fall. Topfer is now in graduate school at Illinois. Topfers impact was immediate for the Illini. A 27th place finish at Notre Dame was followed by a 78th finish at the massive Wisconsin Meet. Topfer had a great race in Big 10’s with a 9th place finsh and at last week’s Midwest Regional finished 13th to help Illinois to a 4th place finsh. The placing was good enough to earn the junior an automatic bid to nationals.

Missouri senior and Kansas City O’Hara grad Max Storms placed 18th at the Midwest Regional to lead a resurgent Mizzou progam to a fifth place finish. His finish earned Storms at automatic bid to nationals. After a school record 10k and leg on the Drake Relays 4×1600 title team last Spring, Storms kept things rolling this fall. At the Greater Louisville Meet, Storms led the Tigers to a four place finish an into the national rankings for the first time in over a decade with a 16th place finish. He upfront for much of the Wisconsin Adidas race before settling for an excellent 52nd place finsh.

Two weeks later Storms earned All-SEC 2nd team honors with his 9th place finish in guiding Mizzou to a tie for 3rd in their first SEC Meet. While the Tigers fell short of a team berth to nationals, Storms will be the fifth Tiger male and sixth appearance by a Tiger at nationals in the last nine years.

Rounding out the 15 Missourians is the Tulsa duo of redshirt sophomore Danny Thater and sophomore Tim Rackers. Thater, the former State Champ for Coach Jeremy Goddard at Kickapoo, Thater struggeled in his first 10k at the 2011 regional and stepped out of the lineup for nationals. The second time around for Thater was a good one. In his hometown last week in Springfield, Thater ran with the frontline throughout the race and was able to hang on for a 14th place finsh. After a 10th place finish at the web Misssouri Southern Stampede in early September, Thater followed with finishes in the 60’s at Notre Dame and Pre-Nationals.

Rackers, a late-comer to running, helped St. Louis University High to a State cross country title and multiple All-State honors for Coach Jim Linhares and Coach Joe Porter and staff. Rackers is just one of the latest recruits from the Show-Me State for Coach Steve Gulley. After a 140th place finish at Pre-Nationals, Rackers placed 10th at the Conference USA meet to help Tulsa to victory. Rackers finished 31st at regionals, just missing All-Region honors by 10 seconds.

Thater and Rackers helped UT to a 47 point total, just two behind OSU and OU who tied with 45.

Megan Yohe’s Vanderbilt squad is coming off their best season ever in 2011. The former Liberty High School standout who was part of Coach Tim Nixon and staff’s State Cross Country Championship team has been just outside the Commodores top 7 most of the season.

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