The Minnesota Golden Gopher harriers -- the Big Ten champion women and the Big Ten runner-up men -- will compete at the NCAA Division I Midwest Regional in Peoria, Illinois tomorrow with sights set on qualifying for the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana eight days later.
The Gopher women are the #1-ranked team in the region and rank #6 in the country.
The Gopher men are #2 in the region, behind Oklahoma State, and #15 in the country.
The top two teams in each of the nation's eight regional meets earn automatic berths in the NCAA Championships. Another 13 invitations to "the big dance" will go to non-automatic qualifiers.
Last year the Gopher women were runner-up to Illinois in the meet. Illinois is ranked #2 in the region to the Gophers this year, followed by #3 Iowa, and #4 Nebraska. Surprisingly, the Gopher women have never won the Midwest Regional.
In 2006, the Gopher men, three-time Midwest champs, finished a disappointed 6th in the meet held in the Twin Cities. Aside from Oklahoma State, they should expect a challenge from the Midwest's #3 team Tulsa and #4 Iowa State. Tulsa finished 6th in the Blue Section of the Pre-National meet in Terre Haute earlier this year; the Gophers were 7th in the White Section. Iowa State nipped the Gophers at Griak.
You can find the Gopher media department's previews of the event, including video interviews with the coaches, below: