Is the NCAA showing a bias towards the Great Lakes Region in Cross country selections
The selection process for at-large teams for the NCAA cross country meet should once again come under serious scrutiny. Several deserving teams missed out on well-deserved selections and one team in particular received a selection based upon one meet.
The confusing part is that some teams must have received credit for beating teams that through a normal selection process would not have counted as credit for this process.
The biggest travesty is the selection committee passing on the Paul Short Invitational winner, Providence College. They were also second to Villanova at the Big East meet and unfortunately sophomore Emily Sisson couldn’t run at the Northeast Regional meet and the team finished fifth. They were 16th at the Wisconsin Adidas meet. The lack of an at-large selection from one of the three toughest regions in the country means that Providence would miss out on their NCAA record 23rd straight appearance at the women’s meet (top ten performance for 17 of those years). They were ninth at last year’s meet.
The winner of the Northeast (NE) region was Syracuse and they were tenth at last year’s NCAA meet and Boston College (19th at the 2010 NCAA meet) had its best performance of the year to finish second and they took the two automatic spots. The top five teams in the region had a range in points from 116 for Syracuse to 163 for Providence. The Friars’ best runner at the regional meet was their #4 runner all year, Charlotte Ffrench O’Carroll.
The contention that the selection committee was taking into account a great performance by a team looked more at the Great Lakes region and not the Northeast region. #3 Northeast region team Cornell (137 at NE Region) was seventh at Paul Short where they beat Boston College and barely lost to automatic qualifiers Michigan (158) and Colorado (160) when they finished fifth at the pre-Nationals meet.
The #3 team (Great Lakes Region - GL) they did take was Toledo, 35th at Wisconsin Adidas, 12th at Notre Dame, and fifth at the Bubble Buster meet they hosted. Ahead of them at their own meet was Columbia, fourth at the NE region (151). They were 27th at the Wisconsin Adidas Meet. Freshman Waverly Neer had by far her best performance at the NE Region and finished fourth. Wisconsin (fourth at GL region) was 21st at their Wisconsin Adidas Invitational. Notre Dame was fifteenth at the Wisconsin Adidas Meet and fifth at the Notre Dame Invitational.
Another missed selection was the third place finisher at the South East Region, North Carolina. They were 14th at the NCAA meet last year and returned all seven of their runners. They finished third (133) at the Southeast region behind Virginia (107) and North Carolina State (113). Earlier in the year they were 14th (454 points) at Wisconsin Adidas Invitational where they defeated at-large selections Notre Dame (15th), San Francisco (17th), Minnesota (20th), Wisconsin (21st), BYU (22nd), ASU (26th), and Toledo (35th) and barely lost to NC State (12th with 421) and Boston College (13th with 435).
The consistent thing about the three teams taken from the Great Lakes Region was their attempts to have big invitational meets that teams from different regions could make.
These are the women’s selections based on the current process, you cannot skip teams past the second team (automatic qualifying) from a regional:
Selections that are questionable - Could have been replaced by (all top 20
(not top 20 at Wisconsin Adidas) Wisconsin Adidas Invitational)
4th at Mountain Region - BYU 3rd at Southeast Region - North Carolina
3rd at Mountain Region - Weber State 3rd at NE Region - Cornell (5th at pre-Nat)
7th at West Region - ASU 3rd at South Region - Florida
Top women’s teams that would have replaced the others that were chosen based on season performances -
4th at Great Lakes - Wisconsin 4th at NE Region - Columbia
5th at Great Lakes - Notre Dame 5th at NE Region - Providence
These are the men’s selections based on the current process, you cannot skip teams past the second team (automatic qualifying) from a regional:
Questionable selection Better Selection
4th Mtn (well back) New Mexico 27th 5th W Reg Cal 25th Wisconsin Inv, 9th Griak
8th Notre Dame
Selections that are questionable - Could have been replaced by (all top 15
(not top 15 at Wisconsin Adidas) Wisconsin Adidas Invitational)
5th GL Ohio State 17th Wisc Inv, 12th ND 6th W Reg UCLA 12th Wis Inv, 6th ND I
4th GL Notre Dame 19th Wisc Inv, 11th ND 7th W Reg Oregon 14th Wisc, 3rd PAc12
3rd S Georgia 21st Wisc Inv, 13th ND Inv
Two ways to solve this would be to only guarantee the winner of each region or if you want to skip and choose a lower team then guarantee spots for teams that finished in the top three and if there are more regions with teams that have skipping then don’t allow the region to skip a team each year. The major issue is that the regions are unbalanced and teams are being left out that don’t deserve to be left out.