Butler will face some of the top teams in the nation when it heads to West Lafayette, Ind., to compete for a national meet berth at the 2008 Great Lakes Regional on Saturday, Nov. 15. The regional qualifying meet, hosted by Purdue, will be held at the Purdue Varsity Cross Country Course. The women's 6K race is slated to start at 11 a.m., and will be followed by the men's 10K race at 11:45 a.m.
The top two teams at the regional championship automatically qualify for the NCAA Cross Country Championship, which will be held at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute on Nov. 24. At-large teams will be selected by the NCAA on Nov. 16. The top four individuals not on a qualifying team also will be automatic qualifiers for the national meet, though individuals must place in the "Top 25" at the regional meet to be considered for the national meet.
Butler's men, who won the Horizon League championship and enter the regional meet with a No. 6 rank in the Great Lakes Region, are among the top contenders in a very strong regional field. Big Ten champion Wisconsin is ranked sixth nationally, while Michigan enters with a No 9 ranking. Notre Dame, runner-up in the Big East, is ranked 27th and Indiana is ranked 28th.
"We have a good chance (of getting a bid) if we run well," said Butler second-year head coach Matt Roe, who was named 2008 Horizon League Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year. "Our region is the second-toughest behind the West Region, so we have a great opportunity."
Senior Andy Baker, a returning All-American and two-time Horizon League individual champ, will lead Butler's men. He placed third at last year's Great Lakes Regional Meet to earn an individual berth in the NCAA Championship, and then he captured All-America honors with a 28th-place finish at the national meet. Also running for the Bulldogs at the regional meet will be senior Tommy Davies, juniors Rob Mullett, Tom Boardman and Kris Gauson, and sophomores Justin and Madison Roeder. Mullett, Boardman, Gauson and Justin Roeder each earned first team All-League honors at the Horizon League Championship.
The Butler women will be led by junior Marbeth Shiell, who earned first team All-League recognition with a fourth place individual finish at the 2008 Horizon League Championship. Roe also will enter senior Amanda Zolman, juniors Sara Bird and Whitney Turner, sophomore Mary Andorfer and freshman Lauren Haberkorn. The Bulldogs placed third at this year's league meet.
Wisconsin enters the women's race with a No. 8 national ranking, while Michigan State is ranked 10th. Michigan carries a No. 17 national ranking.
Butler's men last qualified for the NCAA Championship in 2006, while Butler's women earned a berth in the national meet in 2005.