Cross Country Eyes National Moorings in the NCAA South Regional


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Ole Miss Cross Country would like to book its sixth combined national berth in a row when the men’s and women’s Rebel teams hit the line at NCAA South Regional, held this Friday morning in North Alabama.

The grand prize for the teams competing in the nine NCAA regional meetings in the United States on Friday will be the first two automatic qualifiers for the national championship that will be played in the state of Florida this year. The next four individual finishers who are not assigned to either of these two qualifying teams also deserve a trip to the national meeting as individual runners.

Another 13 large teams and a variable number of other individuals are selected through a national selection process. The NCAA Selection Show is scheduled for Saturday, November 13th at 4 p.m. CT on The top 25 finishers in each region receive All-Region Awards. Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, no NCAA regional tournaments were held in 2020.

The No. 19 Rebel Men are looking for their eighth consecutive trip to the NCAA championships. Ole Miss will start as the men’s favorite and go to the regional meeting as the top-rated team in the southern region ahead of the number 23 in the state of Florida and Alabama. The rebels have won the Southern Region title four of their last six attempts, bringing back five members of that list, including Southern Region runners Cade Bethmann (8th.), Michael Coccia (19.) and Mario Garcia Romo (23.).

Garcia Romo won a bronze medal in the SEC championships two weeks ago, which when combined with his SEC title in 2020, represents the best consecutive SEC rankings for a rebel since Barnabas Kirui’s victory in 2009 and 2010. Fellow All -American Cole Bullock will certainly be a factor as well, as he finished seventh on the rebel runner-up on October 29th.

Other rebels on the regional list are: Cruz Culpepper, Dereck Elkins, Nick Moula and Ben Savino.

The # 15 Rebel Women, meanwhile, are looking for their sixth NCAA spot in a row, having never done so before 2016. Ole Miss received big tickets to the national meeting in 2016, 2018, and 2020 and received an automatic qualifying bid in 2019, winning her very first title in the NCAA South Region in 2017.

Ole Miss is in the middle of a stellar season that came closest to an SEC title in women’s program history, falling 15 points short of the eternal power of Arkansas. Sintayehu Visa Run almost a 6k career best in difficult conditions to finish sixth overall, the best SEC individual result in the history of the Ole Miss women.

That was just the latest benchmark for the rebel women who got their highest national ranking at number 11 in the USTFCCCA coach poll week five. Ole Miss was excellent in the pack race, won the North Alabama Showcase with a points margin of 31.9 seconds, finished sixth in a strong field at the Joe Piane Invitational of Notre Dame with a margin of 46.2 seconds, fourth in the Pre-Nationals of Florida with 32.8 seconds and second in SECs with 50.9 seconds – which corresponds to an average spread of only 40.5 seconds. At Notre Dame and Pre-Nationals, the Rebel women beat a total of 12 other rated schools, finishing behind eight schools, which had an average national rank of 6.9.

Vissa was also the top finisher for Ole Miss at Notre Dame’s Joe Piane Invitational, but it was a real team effort for the Rebels in 2021. Cate costume was fourth at the Memphis Twilight on September 4th, Skylar Boogerd won the singles title in the midst of a strong team at the North Alabama Showcase on September 17th (for which she was named SEC Runner of the Week) and Anna Elkin was the front runner for Ole Miss at Pre-Nats with a 17th place.

Other Rebel women running in Huntsville tomorrow morning are the second team’s All-SEC runner Ryann Helmers, Clio Ozanne-Jaques, Kristel van den Berg, Lydia van Dijk and Loral Winn.

The competition begins at 8:30 a.m. CT with the women’s 6 km, followed by the men’s 10 km at 9:30 a.m. CT.

NCAA South Region Men’s Ranking
1. # 19 Ole Miss

2. # 23 State of Florida
3. Alabama
4. North Florida
5. Middle Tennessee
6. Tennessee
7. Lip comb
8. Belmont
9. Florida
10. Georgia
11. South Alabama
12. ETSU
13. Georgia Tech
14. Maroon
15. Tennessee Technology

NCAA South Region Women’s Rankings

1. # 9 State of Florida
2. # 15 Ole Miss

3. # 11 Alabama
4. Tennessee
5. Georgia Tech
6. Florida
7. Lip comb
8. Vanderbilt
9. Middle Tennessee
10. Auburn
11. Georgia
12. Southern Miss
13. Miami
14. UCF
15. Jacksonville

Ole Miss Men’s Regional Squad
Cade Bethmann
Cole Bullock
Michael Coccia
Cruz Culpepper
Dereck Elkins
Mario Garcia Romo
Nick Moula
Ben Savino

Ole Miss Women’s Regional Squad
Skylar Boogerd
Anna Elkin
Ryann Helmers
Clio Ozanne-Jaques
Sintayehu Visa
Kristel van den Berg
Lydia van Dijk
Loral Winn

For more information on Ole Miss Track & Field and Cross Country, follow the rebels on Twitter (@OleMissTrack), Facebook and Instagram.

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