Owl Harriers Set For Regional Championships
'KEENE, N.H. 11/8/06 - Keene State cross country teams will be racing for a trip to the NCAA Division III championships when they travel to Springfield, Mass., on Saturday for the New England regional qualifying meet. For the second straight year, the meet will take place at Springfield's Veteran's Golf Course. The men's race will begin at 11 a.m. with the women scheduled to run at 12 p.m.
Currently ranked 16th in the national poll, the Owl women's team appears to have the best shot at reaching the championship, which will take place at Wilmington College in Ohio on Nov. 18.
Standing in the way of the Owls is a strong regional challenge from nationally ranked teams Amherst, Tufts, Williams, Middlebury and Colby. Keene State is presently tied with Colby for fifth place in the regional poll.
"It's going to be a nail-biter," said KSC coach Peter Thomas. "The region has some real good teams, and unfortunately a real good team is going to be staying home."
If the Owls don't qualify as a team, Breanne Lucey (Keene, N.H.) and Jennifer Adams (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) should make the field as individual qualifiers. Lucey, a two-time track national champion, has made a smooth transition to the trails winning three meets this season and finishing an impressive seventh at the New England championships. Adams, who earned All-America honors last season, has been solid as Keene State's No. two runner.
Keene State's string of nine consecutive trips to the NCAA men's championships appears in jeopardy. Ranked 11th in the region, the Owls men face an uphill battle to keep the streak going.
"The guys haven't been able to convert good practice times into race day performances," Thomas said. "Maybe this is the week we surprise some people?
KSC's top-two runners Kevin Kelleher and Brock Welch (Merrimack, N.H.) have a chance of reaching the championship as individual qualifiers.
"I want to get up front and see where that brings me," said Kelleher, a junior from Rocky Hill, Conn. "The competition is pretty strong, but anything can happen on race day."