staff, November 14, 2015

The NCAA announced its qualifiers for the 2015 NCAA Cross Country Championships to be held on Saturday, Nov 21, with four women?s programs and three men?s squads representing the Big Ten Conference in a race for national titles. Five individual participants from conference schools will also take to the Tom Sawyer State Park course in Louisville, Ky.

The women?s squad at Michigan captured its 10th regional crown with six Wolverines garnering All-Region honors at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional. Junior Erin Finn paced Michigan, finishing in fifth place with a 6K time of 20:44.3. Michigan will race at its 14th consecutive NCAA Championships and 27th overall in program history.

The Penn State women's cross country team captured the Mid-Atlantic Regional title for the first time since 2012, and received an automatic bid into the 2015 NCAA Cross Country Championships. The Nittany Lions placed five runners inside the top-21 in Princeton, N.J., led by sophomore Tessa Barrett with a fourth-place time of 21:02.2. Penn State won the 2015 Big Ten Championships and is making its 19th NCAA appearance and sixth in the last seven seasons.

Michigan State and Minnesota earned at-large bids to the NCAA Championships. The Spartans are the defending national champions, entering their 15th consecutive championships and 17th overall in program history. The Gophers are making their 11th straight appearance and 19th in program history.

Illinois senior Alyssa Schneider secured an automatic individual bid in the NCAA Championships lineup with a second-place finish at the NCAA Midwest Regional in Lawrence, Kan. The Bartlett, Ill., native crossed the 6K finish line in 20:12.8. Purdue junior Hope Schmelzle finished seventh overall at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional with a time of 20:48.9 to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Schmelzle is Purdue?s first woman to qualify for the championships since 2005 when Lindsay Zinn advanced. Wisconsin?s Shaelyn Sorensen was awarded an at-large bid after finishing fourth at the Great Lakes Regional.

On the men?s side, senior Mason Ferlic won the NCAA Great Lakes Regional individual crown in a time of 30:18.3 and helped the Wolverines to the regional team title. Ferlic became Michigan?s first regional champion since Nate Brannen in 2004. Five Wolverine runners scored in the top-25 to collect All-Region honors, and totaled 67 points to advance to Michigan?s fifth consecutive and 31st overall NCAA Championships.

Finishing runner-up to Michigan was Michigan State with a team score of 88. The Spartans earned an automatic bid to the 2015 NCAA Championships led by junior Sherod Hardt with a seventh-place individual finish and the second all-region accolades of his career. Four Spartans earned All-Region honors and advance to Michigan State?s 17th NCAA appearance in search of its second NCAA team championship in program history.

The Minnesota men?s team heads to its 23rd NCAA Championships and first since 2011, after finishing runner-up at the NCAA Midwest Regional in Lawrence, Kan., with 95 points. The Gophers had four All-Region honorees, led by senior Aaron Bartnik with a 12th-place finish in a time of 30:18.1 on the 10K course.

Purdue?s Matt McClintock qualified for his fourth consecutive NCAA Championships as an individual after finishing runner-up at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional. The 2015 Big Ten Individual Champion clocked 30:20.9 on the 10K course. Illinois? Dylan Lafond was the first Illini finisher, placing eighth at the Midwest Regional, and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships tocompete as an individual.

The women?s 6K race will begin at noon ET, followed by the men?s 10K race at approximately 1 p.m. A live webcast of the championships will be broadcast on

— Big Ten Conference