Winthrop University will be hosting the Southeast Regional Championships for the first time as teams from Kentucky, Virginia, and the Carolinas try to earn a trip to the NCAA Championships with a top two finish. Alongside the Northeast region, the Southeast has one of the largest regional meets, with 37 women’s teams competing in 2017. Staying strong at the back of the scoring five will be an important factor in earning the flight to Madison.
TSR #11 North Carolina State is the top team in the region after an impressive win over TSR #12 Notre Dame at the ACC Championships. The Wolfpack have shown their potential for a top 10 finish at NCAA's throughout the entire season, starting with their 10th place finish at the Nuttycombe Invitational. NC State then challenged TSR #8 BYU and TSR #15 Indiana for 3rd in the Pre-Nats Cardinal race, but fell to 5th. The Wolfpack are individually strong at every spot in the top five. However, they have yet to run with a tight spread this season, so expect NC State to be more like the Lone Wolves than the Wolfpack on Friday. NC State won the Southeast Regional in 2017.
TSR #26 individual Elly Henes has been the star for the Wolfpack in 2018 after placing 2nd at the ACC meet and placing 9th in the Pre-Nats Cardinal race. Henes was 6th in the regional championships last year and the fourth highest ranked in the region for 2018.
Dominique Clairmonte has been a powerful second scorer for the team after her 16th at Pre-Nats and 42nd at Nuttycombe. She was 8th at ACC's and returns as the 5th place finisher from the 2017 regional meet. Graduate transfer Nell Crosby has also been a big edition for the team from Raleigh. Crosby was 10th at ACC's and 32nd at Pre-Nats. While at Columbia, Crosby was a two time All-American in the steeplechase.
Nevada Moreno is an x-factor for this squad after transferring from Stanford. Moreno struggled in her first two races in Madison, but finished 22nd to be the fourth finisher at ACC's. If Moreno continues an upward trend, she should put the Wolfpack even more out of reach from the rest of the region and more into the national conversation.
The only other ranked team in Southeast is TSR #18 Furman. The Paladins probably had the easiest conference meet of any of the major contenders, cruising through the Southern Conference with only 25 points. Furman was one of the few teams to skip the Nuttycombe Invitational and instead travel to Notre Dame for the Joe Piane Invitational losing only to TSR #8 BYU. The Paladins did head to Wisconsin for the Pre-Nats White race where they placed 7th. Furman should be the only team to challenge NC State for the win on Friday and should open a large gap between themselves and 3rd if all goes well.
Junior Savannah Carnahan is the TSR #24 individual and the 3rd highest in the region. Because of Furman’s racing schedule, Carnahan has been overlooked. Her 4th place finish at Joe Piane was widely overshadowed by Nuttycombe, while her 7th place in the Pre-Nats White race was overshadowed by the star power of the first six finishers. Carnahan was also the runner-up at the Southern Conference meet.
Furman’s top three is finalized by Emma Grace Hurley and Gabrielle Jennings who have traded the second and third spots in the lineup. Hurley edged Jennings at the conference meet, while Jennings was 28th at Nuttycombe over Hurley’s 36th. Furman’s fourth and fifth runners are not quite as good as NC State’s but they should still be the second best in the field.
With NC State and Furman repeating as favorites from 2017, it’s only fair that the first challenger should be 2017’s 3rd place team Eastern Kentucky. EKU enters regionals after a strong Ohio Valley Conference meet that rivals Furman for the easiest conference victory in the region. EKU easily won with 33 points. They entered championship weekend following an 11th place finish at the Penn State National Open where they were the top team from the Southeast. EKU was 2nd at the Louisville Classic behind only TSR #6 Michigan. They placed 6th at the early season Vanderbilt Commodore Classic. While some of their results are not the most impressive, EKU does have the luxury of having a few front-runners in their lineup.
Lilian Kiborus is the top runner for the Colonels and is coming fresh off a 2nd place at the OVC Championships. Kiborus and teammate Gladys Cheruiyot were 18th and 19th at the Penn State National meet. Cheruiyot was also 4th at the OVC Championship. Lilian Ndorobo was 6th at the OVC meet, only two seconds behind Cheruiyot. If she can match that at regionals (instead of her 82nd placing at Penn State) the Colonels could make this a much closer race.
Virginia Tech was the team right behind EKU at the Penn State National Open in 12th place and raised their stock after a 5th place at the ACC Championships. The Hokies were 5th at the Paul Short Gold race. Individually, Sara Freix has led the squad most of the year finishing 6th at the Penn State National Open and 13th at the ACC Championships.
Lauren Berman finished close behind in 17th at ACC's and led the team at the Paul Short Gold Invite. If their scoring lineup runs well enough, the Hokies should be in a position to finish among the top five.
The Blue Devils of Duke placed right behind the Hokies at the ACC's in 6th place, only 18 points behind them. They placed 5th at the Joe Piane Invitational and then 18th at the Pre-Nats Cardinal race. The Blue Devils have struggled to find a front-runner, but will rely on a strong pack to push into the top spots on Friday. They had the 2nd best seventh runner at the ACC Championships behind only North Carolina State. Michaela Reinhart should be the top Duke runner across the line after finishing 20th at the conference meet. Gabrielle Richichi was 24th in the same race.
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons could also play a big factor in a race for a top four finish. Wake Forest was 8th at the ACC Championships and was 18th in the Pre-Nats White race. They also finished 7th at the Battle in Beantown earlier in the year as the top team from the Southeast. Their individuals did not have their best races at the ACC meet, but both Samantha Halvorsen and Meredith Smith should rebound for strong performances this weekend.
While the ACC supplies most of the challengers, the Atlantic-10 champions should not be forgotten about. The Richmond Spiders won their conference by over 50 points, scoring only 41 en route to victory. They were only 22nd at the Pre-Nats Cardinal race, about 150 points behind Duke. The Spiders were 13th at the Paul Short Gold meet as well and will certainly be on the outside looking in, but a conference championship always raises hopes heading into regionals. However, they’ll need a great run to challenge any of the ACC teams previewed here. Amanda Corbosiero has been one of the Spiders’ top harriers and she returns after finishing 23rd at the regional meet in 2017.
The final team to challenge for a top five finish is the Virginia Cavaliers. The Cavaliers were only 9th at the ACC Championships and have had issues accumulating high finishes as a team this season. They were 8th at the Battle in Beantown and 14th at Penn State Open. In the two races where Wake Forest and Virginia have raced together, Virginia has been right behind the Demon Deacons. If one races well, it could be the sign that both teams are moving up the leaderboard. Abigail Green has really stepped into the individual conversation as a freshman, placing 4th at the Penn State National Open and 3rd at the Battle in Beantown. Green was also 9th at ACC's.
In most regions, many of the top individuals are on potential qualifying teams. While that is moderately true in the Southeast, a larger and stronger of contingent individuals are challenging without a major team presence.
TSR #4 Dorcas Wasike leads the championship race and enters as the clear leader for Friday. Wasike was the runner-up in the 10k on the track this spring and has only built on that result this XC season. Wasike has won all but one race this season and has only lost to harriers wearing a New Mexico Lobo jersey. Wasike’s wins came at Vanderbilt, the Louisville Classic, and the ACC Championships. She was 3rd behind TSR #3 Kurgat and TSR #1 Kelati in the Pre-Nats White race. Wasike is the top returner from the 2017 regional meet after placing 4th (Caroline Sang of Charlotte maintains a year of eligibility, but has not competed in 2018 after winning the 2017 regional).
TSR #23 Hannah Steelman is the second highest ranked individual in the region behind Wasike and boasts a win over TSR #24 Carnahan of Furman at the Southern Conference meet. The Wofford runner has only lost to Wasike at Louisville Classic, but has been otherwise perfect in her approach to NCAA's. Steelman started her season at the Louisville Classic, meaning she should be a little fresher thanks to a delayed start. Even if she has an average race, Steelman should be able to stay within individual qualifying position.
Enyaeva Michelin of North Carolina has not gotten a lot of attention this season, but she has been steadily improving in her freshman campaign. Her first race was a 31st place finish at the Battle in Beantown over 5000 meters. Her two 6k races have been much better with a 14th place finish at the Penn State National Open and then a 12th place finish at the ACC Championships, where she beat many of her regional rivals.
Logan Morris will be flying the flag for the Clemson Tigers after her 27th place finish at the ACC Championships. Her best race was an 8th place at the Joe Piane Invitational followed by a 29th place finish in the Pre-Nats White race.
Emily Mulhern of VCU was the top Southeast regional finisher at the Atlantic-10 Championships, earning 3rd overall. She was 6th at the Paul Short Brown race. Mulhern ran for Virginia throughout the 2018 track season before transferring to the in-state regional rival.
Famke Heinst of High Point also enters the meet as a conference champion after winning the Big South. Heinst was 5th at Paul Short (Gold) which was her only race of the season that was over 6000 meters. Keep in mind that Heinst competed at the IAAF U20 World Championships in the steeplechase for the Netherlands earlier this summer.
Coralea Geraniotis is yet another conference champion entering Friday’s race. The Colonial (CAA) champion runs for Elon and has been in the top three of every race she’s run so far. Tess Masselink of the College of Charleston was only a few seconds behind her at the conference meet and will try to be the top CAA runner in the region.
Did you say conference champion? MEAC champion Martha Bissah has yet to lose a race in 2018 for Norfolk State after winning at the ECU Pirates and George Mason Invites. Bissah is an 800 meters specialist on the track, but has found a home on the grass this cross country season.
Caroline Yarbough of Davidson has a 17:04 for 5k this season, but has yet to race for 6000 meters. She was 7th at the Atlantic-10 conference and ran a season best race at the Royals Challenge where she placed 3rd behind Hannah Steelman and Mount Olive’s Leah Hanle.
Sierra Poppell of Morehead State was 3rd at the OVC Championships and finished right behind Yarbough at the Royals Challenge. Poppell has also only raced over 5000 meters in 2018.
Noel Palmer will lead the Flames of Liberty after finishing runner-up at the Atlantic Sun Championships. She was 65th in the Pre-Nats Cardinal race.
1. Dorcas Wasike (Louisville)
2. Elly Henes (North Carolina St.)
3. Hannah Steelman (Wofford)
4. Savannah Carnahan (Furman)
5. Abigail Green (Virginia)
6. Dominique Clairmonte (North Carolina St.)
7. Enyaeva Michelin (North Carolina)
8. Gabrielle Jennings (Furman)
9. Nell Crosby (North Carolina State)
10. Emma Grace Hurley (Furman)
11. Famke Heinst (High Point)
12. Samantha Halvorsen (Wake Forest)
13. Lilian Kiborus (Eastern Kentucky)
14. Caroline Yarbough (Davidson)
15. Michaela Reinhart (Duke)
16. Sara Freix (Virginia Tech)
17. Martha Bissah (Norfolk State)
18. Nevada Moreno (North Carolina State)
19. Amanda Corbosiero (Richmond)
20. Meredith Smith (Wake Forest)
1. North Carolina State 62
2. Furman 82
3. Eastern Kentucky 161
4. Wake Forest 162
5. Duke 164 (Duke wins tiebreaker 3-2. All places vary by no more than three points.)
6. Virginia Tech 164
7. Virginia 200
North Carolina State and Furman earn the automatic berths to NCAA's in a repeat from 2017. The projection would mean almost identical scores from the year before!
North Carolina State gives Kolas points to the following teams: BYU, Colorado, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Indiana (2 points), Iowa State, Boise State, Oregon, Villanova, and Arkansas (2 points). BYU, Wisconsin, and Indiana are the only teams projected not to finish in the top two of their region; all three benefit from a NC State win and are all currently projected to qualify through the at-large process.
Furman gives Kolas points to the following teams: BYU, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Michigan, Stanford, Washington. BYU, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Stanford, and Washington are currently not projected in the top two and will benefit from wins over Furman. All five teams are projected to qualify for NCAA's using current projections, but the order of finish at regionals could greatly affect these teams. In particular, Washington is projected to qualify via a push and will certainly need the Furman win to qualify on their own if they do not get pushed.
Eastern Kentucky has potential wins over SMU. SMU is not currently projected to qualify and thus EKU would not have enough points to qualify for NCAA's.
Wake Forest has a potential win over Syracuse. Syracuse is projected to qualify for NCAA's automatically in the Northeast (in a very competitive race), but one point would not be enough for Wake Forest to qualify as an at-large team.
Duke has a potential win over Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech is currently projected as one of the first teams out of Nationals. Thus, Duke would not have enough points to qualify.
Virginia Tech has a potential win over Georgia Tech. This is the exact same scenario as Duke and would not qualify.
Dorcas Wasike (Louisville), Hannah Steelman (Wofford), Abigail Green (Virginia), and Enyaeva Michelin (North Carolina) would receive the individual automatic qualifiers. With a strong individual presence in the Southeast, the region would be a particularly attractive place to pick an at-large individual which would be selected by the NCAA qualifying committee. Famke Heinst (High Point) or Samantha Halvorsen (Wake Forest) could receive high consideration for those slots. These bids are deliberated by the NCAA and are available to any non-qualifying individual finishing in the top 25 of their region.