Cross Country Qualifies For National Championships

Biola sends its full women's team and a men's competitor.

Nov. 11, 2014 By Neil Morgan

 

LA MIRADA, Calif. --- Late on Monday afternoon the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics announced the official field for the 2014 NAIA Cross Country National Championships in Lawrence, Kansas. Biola’s women’s contingent earned one of 11 at-large bids to earn a spot in the field at nationals for the eighth time in as many years.

The Eagles began the season ranked No. 1 in the NAIA Preseason Top-25 Coaches’ poll and have since slipped to No. 21, but the national meet is often where Biola does its best work, earning high preseason and postseason rankings year after year.

Last year, Biola was third overall in a 32-team field at the national meet. Five of the Eagles’ seven runners from that national meet returned to the team this season and most of them will compete at this season’s championship.

Of those five returning runners, two of them, Carrie Soholt and Kellian Hunt, earn All-American status in last season’s race and seem primed to do so again. Hunt has two All-American nods in her first two seasons of competition. Both of those student-athletes earned All-GSAC status at Biola’s recent Golden State Athletic Conference Championship meet. Anika Gasner also earned All-GSAC marks and actually posted the lowest time for Biola at the conference meet. Gasner finished 56th at the national meet in 2013 as the fourth-fastest Eagle.

This year’s field is expanded from 32 teams to 37, and in addition to dealing with the groups of runners, there are an additional 84 runners that earned individual qualification for the race.  If each qualified team runs seven runners the national championship field could contain 343 runners in 2014.

While Biola’s regular season has been full of ups-and-downs this season, the Eagles are primed and ready for a strong performance at the meet that matters most. Since 2007, Biola has finished no worse than 12th at the NAIA National Championship meet.

The 2014 field consists of 22 teams that Biola finished ahead of in 2013, two teams it did not and 13 teams that did not qualify for the 2013 championships. The Eagles’ earned the eighth of the 11 at-large bids, leaving just No. 22 College of Idaho, No. 24 Indiana Tech and No. 25 Texas Wesleyan ranked lower than Biola among the at-large bids. The Eagles are one of three GSAC teams in the field (Westmont, The Master’s).

Kevin Horchler, the men’s GSAC champion, qualified for the event as one of 76 individual competitors in the men’s field.

The women’s team and Horchler head to Rim Rock Farm in Kansas and will compete for the Championships on Nov. 22.

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