The Alabama men’s and women’s cross-country teams saw their seasons come to an end at the NCAA South Regional they hosted at the Harry Pritchett Running Park on Friday. The top two teams from the regional received automatic bids to the NCAA Championships.
The men ran first on Friday and finished 13th out of 26 teams. The women ran later and finished a distant third behind Florida State and Vanderbilt. The women hoped their strong showing would lead to an at-large berth to the NCAAs, but they were not among the teams selected Saturday.
On the men’s side, sophomore Parker Deuel led the way with a 39th place finish on a field with 173 runners; he ran the 10k in 31:03.76.
“I think overall we had an OK day,” Deuel said. “We have a lot of work to do, to kind of come back to the drawing board and work on a few things.”
Deuel said it was a “baptism by fire” for the young Crimson Tide cross-country team this year.
“We’ve jumped into something that we have no idea what we are doing yet,” Deuel said. “We have no upperclassmen and no real way to guide us, but we are doing well. I think we are doing better, given what our current situation is. I think next year and years after that we are definitely looking at nationals and competing at nationals and doing well.”
Beyond the team itself being young, so are its members, with six of the squad’s seven competing runners Friday being freshmen or sophomores.
Coach Dan Waters was not offering up any excuses for the men’s performance on Friday, though.
“I’d say it was the first time all year long that we didn’t compete like I thought we were capable of,” Waters said. “We definitely have to make some changes mentally to be able to compete at this race on this day next year. That’ll be the goal as we move forward into next season.”
While Waters said he was disappointed in how the men performed, he spoke well of how the women’s team competed in its third place finish. Sophomore Katelyn Greenleaf led the charge for the women, setting a personal record in the 6k of 20:38.44 on her way to a 13th place finish in a field of 194 runners.
“We made a couple of huge steps as a team,” Greenleaf said. “I’ve definitely improved individually. It’s been a good season.”
Even though the season ended for the women, both Greenleaf and Waters said they were happy with the strides the team made this season, and they came very close to making it to the NCAA Championships in what was thought to be a rebuilding year.
“We thought that if we made it to nationals this year we’d be a year ahead of schedule,” Waters said. “Anyway you want to look at it, we’re ahead of schedule as we want to move our program forward.”