2001 Western Regional Preview

The Chico State University cross country team heads to the NCAA Division II West Regional Championships on Saturday at Lake Padden Park in Bellingham, WA with both the men's and the women's squads looking well-prepared to qualify for berths in the NCAA Division II National Championships.

The top four teams in each division (along with the top two individuals not on one of the qualifying teams) advance to the national meet at Slippery Rock, Pa., on Saturday, Nov. 17.

Coming off our conference races we're excited about our opportunities at Regionals. Having not raced for three weeks before our conference meet the kids ran well, but lacked some sharpness. We feel confident in our fitness going into regionals and expect to challenge the competition well, said Coach Gary Towne.

The Wildcats enter the meet ranked No. 2 in the NCAA Division II West Region rankings for the men, and No.4 in the women's rankings. The men are also ranked fourth nationally, and No. 16 for the women.

Leading the men is senior David Braund, who became the first Chico man to win a Conference cross-country championship since 1995 when he won the California Collegiate Athletic Association title on Oct. 13, earning conference Male Athlete of the year and leading the Wildcats to a second place finish.

"It is going to be a tough race, that is the known, as for the unknown we will just have to run it and see who wants it more that day," said Braund.

Leading the women's squad is junior Sarah Hallas. Hallas finished 13th last year in the region and has led Chico in all races this season, including the CCAA championship, where she was seventh and led the Wildcats to a second place finish.