LOGAN, Utah – For just the second time in program history, and first since 2017, Utah State’s women’s cross country team was selected to participate in the NCAA Division I National Championships.
Utah State earned an at-large berth, announced during the NCAA DI selection show on Saturday afternoon. The top two, seven-person teams automatically qualified from each of the nine regions, for a total of 18 teams. Thirteen additional teams were selected at-large, including the Aggies.
“I am super proud of our women,” said Utah State head coach Artie Gulden. “They came really close to qualifying for NCAAs last year and not making it was a big disappointment. But, they really committed themselves, had a great summer of training and great season. I am particularly happy for our older girls who have battled for three and four years to get to this point. It is really satisfying, and I hope they are all enjoying today.”
The 22nd-ranked Aggies will join two other programs from the Mountain West (No. 2 New Mexico and No. 19 Colorado State) at the national championships on Saturday, Nov. 20, at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Florida. The women’s 6K race will begin at 8:20 a.m. (MT), followed by the men’s 10K at 9:10 a.m.
Additionally, No. 4 BYU and No. 7 Utah also earned at-large berths to the national championships.
“We’re going to the Big Dance,” said an excited Mica Rivera, one of four seniors on the team. “After narrowly missing qualifying as a team this past winter season, it feels incredible to be able to do it this year. We all are so happy for the opportunity to race at nationals. This team is special, and we have the potential to be very competitive on Saturday.”
Admission to next week’s NCAA Championships is $10 per person. Tickets can be purchased in advance by visiting ncaatickets.com. NCAA cross country fans not in attendance can catch all the action live on ESPNU and the ESPN App, beginning at 8 a.m.
“Qualifying for nationals as a team is a dream come true that we have been working and fighting for since 2018,” said USU senior Katie Haviland.
Haviland led Utah State to a seventh-place finish at Friday’s NCAA Mountain Region Championships at Timpanogos Golf Club in Provo. The native of Lehi placed 26th overall in the 6K race with a time of 20:55.8 – narrowly missing out on earning all-region honors, awarded to those that finish in the top 25.
For the 21st-ranked Aggie men, Friday did not turn out the way they had hoped. Utah State tied Montana State as each team scored 177 points, but the Bobcats won the tiebreaker and took seventh, while USU finished eighth – ultimately preventing the Aggies from earning an at-large berth to the NCAAs.
Senior Darren Harman was the Aggies’ top finisher. Like Haviland, he narrowly missed out on earning all-region accolades as he placed 27th with a time of 30:31.2. Chase Leach, the Mountain West Freshman of the Year, finished 29th with a time of 30:32.7.
Haviland competed as an individual for the Aggies at the 2020 NCAA Championships – delayed until March 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic – in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where she placed 43rd with a time of 21:01.6. She is thrilled to be bringing her teammates along this time around.
“Going as an individual last year was exciting, but being able to be there as a team has truly been the goal for so long” Haviland said. “It’s a huge relief to finally have years of hard work and struggle pay off. I am beyond happy for us, and so proud of my teammates. They are tough, resilient women, and I can’t wait to have them on the line with me, being able to have the special experience of competing at the national level together on Saturday.”
Ranked 19th in the nation heading into the 2017 Championships, Utah State finished 14th with 395 points in the 6K race at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Kentucky.
For more information on the Utah State track & field/cross country programs, follow the Aggies on Twitter at @USUTF_XC, on Facebook at USUTrack and on Instagram at USUTF_XC.