Clayton State women’s cross country to run at NCAA Division II National Championship meet
Morrow, GA – The Clayton State women's cross country will make history on Saturday.
For the first time in program history, the Laker women's squad will compete in the NCAA Division II National Cross Country meet. Clayton State qualified for the 32-team meet, which is being run in Joplin, MO, after placing second in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional earlier this month. The race will start at 11:30 a.m. CDT.
"The hard work and 6:30 a.m. runs paid off this season," said head coach Mike Mead. "This has been the best focused group of runners I've coached here at Clayton State. We're going to be in a battle come Saturday. We'll get our first taste of elite NCAA Division II cross country racing. If we stick to our race plan, we can have the program's best 6K effort and perhaps an All-America in the mix, too!"
Although a Laker women's team has never advanced to the NCAA Division II national meet, the program has fared well at the national meet, as former Clayton State standouts Allison Kreutzer and Angela Cobb have competed in the event as individuals. Kreutzer competed three times, earned All-America twice and had a top-15 finished twice, including a runner-up finish as a freshman in 2004. Cobb earned All-America honors in 2006 with a 20th place finish and set the current team 6K record at 20:51.60.
The 2012 season has been filled with several impressive feats for the Clayton State women's program. Some of team's achievements include: Winning its first Peach Belt title; capturing first place finishes at two meets; earning its first trip to NCAA nationals as a team; compiling a dual meet record of 75-12; earning its highest NCAA Regional meet finish; and receiving its highest region ranking during the season (No. 1).
From an individual perspective, the program also had several first-time accomplishments with three runners being named both All-PBC and All-Region in Paige Galvin, Racquel Valadez, Samantha Walling; four athletes earning All-Region honors in Galvin, Valadez, Walling and Jessica Smith; and finally having four athletes named to the PBC All-Academic team in Galvin, Walling, Smith and Mia Kuhnen.
Entering the meet, Coach Mead says, the critical spot will be how the team's No. 5 runner finishes in relation to the Lakers top four runners in Galvin, Valadez, Walling and Smith.
"Mia (Kuhnen), Taylor Galvin and Gisele (Javois) have battled this season to keep close with our top four," said Mead. "All three had terrific finishes at conference and we're going to need more of the same at Saturday's national meet. We don't plan to just show up. We want to be competitive and represent Clayton State, the Peach Belt and our region well in Joplin."
Mead says, Valadez and Paige Galvin both have legitimate shots at a top-40 finish if they will run smart and aggressively.
"Paige (Galvin) has been the consummate leader for the past two years and I'm pleased with her successes this season," said Mead. Racquel (Valadez) has been a surprise for us and has been a fine addition to the program leading us in four of our six meets. Samantha (Walling) and Jessica (Smith) have had fine seasons, considering some minor setbacks early on and are key to how high we can finish as a team."
Clayton State is one of three Peach Belt schools in the national meet along with Columbus State and UNC Pembroke. The top four teams and top-15 individuals earn NCAA awards. The top-40 individuals earn All-America honors through the USTFCCCA (United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association). Augustana (S.D.) is the defending champions, ranked No. 1 nationally, and the pre-meet favorite.