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Virginia cross country to host NCAA Southeast Regional Championships

The Cavalier men and women will return to Panorama Farms to compete in the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships Friday

<p>Virginia cross country will compete in its third home meet of the season Friday.</p>

Virginia cross country will compete in its third home meet of the season Friday.

Virginia cross country is set to run in its second postseason meet of the season at home Friday. The Cavaliers look to build on their successful outing at the ACC Championships where the men’s team took fourth place and the women’s team finished 11th. 

This will be the third home meet of the year for the Cavaliers, and it comes at a crucial time in the postseason. The top two finishers at the Southeast Regional Championships will automatically qualify for the National Championships. 

The No. 21 Virginia men will face talented teams including No. 22 Virginia Tech, No. 26 Eastern Kentucky and reigning regional champions N.C. State. The men will also transition to running a 10k race — as will be run in the National Championships — instead of an 8k.

The Cavalier women face a similarly difficult race and will face No. 14 Furman, No. 23 Virginia Tech and No. 5 N.C. State, who has won three consecutive regional championships. Women’s cross country teams will continue to run the 6k race and look to improve upon last year’s sixth place finish and break into the top two.

Runners to watch

Sophomore Peter Morris

Morris finished 12th overall and first among the Virginia men at the ACC Championships en route to earning All-ACC honors. In addition, he performs well at home, recording his personal best in the 8k at the Panorama Farms Invitational in September. He’ll need to replicate that success at the Southeast Regional for Virginia to secure an automatic qualification for the National Championships.

Junior Kiera Bothwell

Bothwell placed 45th overall and second among the Virginia women at the ACC Championships despite running a time that was far slower than her personal record. When she’s at her best, Bothwell may be the fastest athlete on the team. Around this time last year, she recorded a personal best time of 21:10.4 in the 6k. She has the potential to provide a huge boost in helping the Cavaliers come away on top.

Key to the meet: Use home advantage

Knowing the ins and outs of a cross country course can give a runner an edge against opponents. Turning at just the right moment can shave a few vital seconds off of a runner’s time and save more energy for the final leg of the race. Furthermore, there’s a mental aspect in cross country — being comfortable in the course location can take one’s mind off of fatigue and subconsciously improve performance. If Virginia can capitalize on its home course advantage, it could pay off in terms of final placing and runners’ times in the meet.

The women will compete in the 6k race at Panorama Farms in Charlottesville at 10:30 a.m. The men will compete in the 10k race at 11:30 a.m. at the same location. Both races take place on Friday.