FSU To Host NCAA Regional Cross Country

Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University Athletics Department will host the 2011 NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 5, at FSU's Katke Golf Course in Big Rapids, Mich.

The 31st annual women's postseason event and 54th annual men's championships will feature approximately 300 student-athletes and kick off with the women's 6,000-meter (6K) race at 11 a.m. (EDT). The men's 10,000-meter (10K) event will follow at 12 p.m. (EDT) with the post-race awards ceremony set to begin around 1:30 p.m. (EDT). Admission to the event is free of charge and open to the public. Parking will be $5 and located on the property.

The regional field will include 23 men's teams and 24 women's squads from the Midwest Region, which encompasses all schools located in both the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) and the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC). The top four team finishers in the women's division and top three men's teams as well as the top two individuals not associated with one of those squads will automatically qualify for the 2011 NCAA-II Championships set for Saturday, Nov. 19, at Spokane, Wash. Seven runners will compete per team in the scoring race with the top seven overall finishers attaining first-team all-region recognition.

Katke Golf Course, a university-owned 18-hole golf course situated on the western flank of the Ferris State campus, serves as the home site for all Bulldog cross country along with men's and women's golf events. The course is named after Mr. and Mrs. Marvin L. Katke, whose generous donation influenced campus development and the initial phase of the golf course. Katke, a friend of Ferris and a Mecosta County native, was vice president for manufacturing of the Ford Motor Company and a 1967 recipient of an honorary degree from FSU.

Katke, which opened in 1974, recently played host to the 2005 NCAA-II Great Lakes Regional Cross Country Championship and the 2008 NCAA-II Midwest Regional Cross Country Championships along with both the 2004 and 2007 NCAA Division II East Regional Women's Golf Championships. Both the men's and women's races will start and finish on Katke's 18th hole near the clubhouse.

Last season (2010), Grand Valley State captured both the men's and women's crowns at the NCAA-II Midwest Regional Championships (11/20), which were hosted by Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky. The Bulldog women took second place in the regional field a year ago while qualifying for the national championships for the third consecutive campaign.

Among the teams to watch in the women's division are GVSU and FSU, which are ranked first and second, respectively, in the latest (Oct. 25) NCAA Division II Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association Midwest Regional Rankings.  They were followed by GLVC members Southern Indiana (3rd), Bellarmine (4th) and Wisconsin-Parkside (5th) in the top five.

Nationally, Grand Valley State is the defending NCAA-II National Champion in women's cross country and is ranked second in the country with FSU currently listed sixth after being as high as third before the Lakers edged out the Bulldogs to win the GLIAC Championship two weeks ago (Oct. 22) in Ashland, Ohio.  USI (18th), Bellarmine (20th) and UWP (24th) are also ranked nationally heading into the regional.

On the men's side, GVSU is ranked third nationally with Southern Indiana sixth, Bellarmine 17th and Ashland 24th.  Those four teams also hold down the top four spots in the most recent regional listing with Wayne State fifth and Ferris State sixth going into the regional.

The women's race will include Ferris State's Tina Muir, a three-time All-American who has won the Midwest Regional individual title each of the last two years and claimed the GLIAC's individual crown two weeks ago. Southern Indiana's Jackie Henderson was the GLVC Champion at the league' conference meet last week (Oct. 28) in Evansville, Ind.  She placed sixth in last year's regional field.

In the men's field, Southern Indiana took the top three individual spots in winning the GLVC Championship and is led by conference champion Brendan Devine.  Grand Valley State also had the top three men's finishers in the GLIAC with Anthony Witt claiming the men's individual title for the Lakers.  He was second overall a year ago at the regional.

Grand Valley State won both the men's and women's GLIAC titles this season while Southern Indiana had the top men's and women's teams in the GLVC.

Ferris State's women captured second place while the Bulldog men took fourth overall at the 2011 GLIAC Championships.  The FSU women's team placed eighth nationally a year ago at the 2011 NCAA-II National Championships under head coach Steve Picucci after earning runner-up honors at the regional event.