If there was ever a winning weekend, this was it. This past Saturday was the NCAA Division 1 Cross Country West Regionals, held at the Stanford Golf Course in Palo Alto. Regionals weekend is always one of my favorites of the year, as the best of the West battle it out for a berth to the National Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana. Not only is the weekend full of great cross country racing, it's also a reunion of sorts, where I get to visit with old high school teammates, college rivals, friends and family.
All in all, this weekend was a winner - read on to see my winning weekend highlights.
Win #1: Little bro Brendan finishes 7th in the men's race
My studly little brother had one of his best races ever to finish as Stanford's #3 guy and 7th overall in the West Region. He ran smart, patiently working his way over 10,000 meters and saving the best for last, moving into the top 10 in the final kilometers. It was inspiring to see his 5 years of hard work pay off in such a big way - I know he was happy to go out with a bang at his last college race on home turf. The Stanford team and Brendan are off to Terre Haute this week as Stanford chases a National Championship title. See Brendan's post-race Flotrack interview here.
Win #2: Family reunion and XC party at the golf course
Anyone who knows my family knows that running is a HUGE part of who we are -- and boy do we love cross country! My family comes out to XC meets in full force - in addition to my parents and siblings, who rarely miss a race, I'm hard-pressed to think of a meet where I haven't also had aunts, uncles, cousins, or grandparents in attendance - the whole family comes out to cheer and support.
Not only is my family a great support system, they also sure do know how to throw a party at a XC meet! After the races, my mom and grandma unpacked an amazing spread of sandwiches, fruit, drinks, and desserts, like they do after many a meet. The Greggs held court at the golf course as family and friends gathered for post-race eats and a runners' reunion. We were the last to leave, like we are every year - it was such a fun afternoon. Food and family for the win!
Win #3: USF Dons qualify for NCAA's!
Perhaps the biggest win of the weekend was watching the University of San Francisco's women's team make school history by becoming the first team to qualify for NCAA's! I've been a volunteer coach with the women's team since last spring and it's been amazing to watch these young ladies develop and grow over the past 9 months. Qualifying for Nationals has been a goal all season, and watching that dream become reality was far and away the weekend's highlight.
|Pre-race, listening to some pump up music and getting ready to ROLL!|
Before the race, I was more nervous for the women than I get before my own races. I SO desperately wanted them to run well! I nearly lost my voice from yelling as I ran around the golf course, screaming cheers. When all the runners had crossed the line and the final scores were announced, the women found themselves in 6th place overall. A 6th place finish in the West Region is tremendous, but it doesn't guarantee an NCAA qualifier - only 2 teams automatically qualify out of each region. So, the ladies had to endure an excruciating wait to hear if they'd earned an at-large bid...
|Waiting, waiting... watching the Flotrack live feed announcing at-large bids|
I joined the women as they awaited the at-large bid announcements via Flotrack's live video of the Kolas Calculator, which predicts who makes it to NCAA's. We were nearly pulling our hair out with nerves - Hayley almost had a heart attack as we waited! Finally, finally, the announcement was made, and when we saw "San Francisco" flash across the screen, we erupted into screams, whoops, hollers, and tears of joy.
|Flotrack's Kolas Calculator - Alex and Ryan announcing the at-large bids|
|THEY'RE IN!!! TERRE HAUTE, HERE WE COME!|
As the reality of what they'd accomplished set in, the tears of joy turned into an impromptu celebratory dance party. In the moments following the announcement, a tiny little kitchen in a San Francisco apartment was the most joyful place in the world. I was so happy to be a part of the ladies' special day - it reminded me of my own NCAA qualifying run at this same meet 3 years ago. I wish them the most joyful of runs at Nationals next week - they deserve it!
If there's ever a team that's earned a Nationals bid, it's this team. This group is full of talented runners, but they're not all natural superstars - these ladies have had to WORK for their victories. They've earned every bit of their success through tough training, long miles, and commitment. I deeply admire their dedication to both their goals and to each other - every day they're an inspiration to me in my own training. Best of luck in Terre Haute, Lady Dons - go get em!
So, there you have it - a weekend of winning :-) Hope your weekend was equally joyful! Can't wait to see what next weekend holds!