Senior Matthew Graham hopes to earn a spot at the NCAA National Championships with a strong race on Saturday.
Nov. 11, 2011
DEKALB, Ill. – Five women and seven men are set to represent the DePaul cross country squad on Saturday afternoon in DeKalb, Ill., as the Blue Demons ready to compete at the 2011 NCAA Midwest Regional hosted by Northern Illinois.
Senior Matthew Graham leads the Blue Demons on the men’s side. Graham is coming off of a fourth-place finish at the BIG EAST Conference Championships at which he logged a season-best 8K time of 23:38.4, just two-hundredths of a second behind the next fastest competitor and good enough to earn him a place on the All-BIG EAST team for the third consecutive year.
The meet—which welcomes 33 Division I universities across Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota—serves as the first round of the NCAA Cross Country National Championships, as the top two teams and top four individuals not on a qualifying team automatically advance to the national championship.
Graham, who placed 21st at last season’s regional and earned a spot on the All-Midwest Regional Team, hopes that an improvement of his time will allow him to capture his first trip to the national championships, held this year in Terre Haute, Ind. The Blue Demons previously ran at Terre Haute on October 16 in the Pre-National Invitational hosted by Indiana State University. At that meet, Graham took home 23rd place, his lowest finish of the season.
Graham is not the only male student-athlete competing in DeKalb for the Blue Demons. He is joined by fellow senior Brian Begalke, juniors Zak Koronkiewicz and Tyler Schmitt, sophomores Chris Miedema and Ian Sanchez, and the lone freshman, Herald Alvarez.
Headed by senior Claire O’Brien, DePaul sends five student-athletes to compete on the women’s side. O’Brien led the Blue Demons in their last competition—the BIG EAST Conference Championships—as she took home 76th place and was the first DePaul woman to cross the finish line.
Alongside O’Brien, fellow seniors Erin Lakie and Kelly Pickering look to run strong races as they near the end of their DePaul cross country careers. Representing DePaul’s young female runners, freshmen Jacqueline Kasal and Taylor Pikes are set to compete in DeKalb as well.
Both the men’s and women’s races are held on Anderson Field on the Northern Illinois campus. The men’s race goes off first on Saturday as it is scheduled for a noon start. The women’s competition is set to follow at 1:15 p.m. Following the regional competition, additional teams and individuals are chosen for the NCAA National Championships through an at-large process.