Junior Qualifies for NCAA Championships

Nov. 13, 2007

Junior Mattie Bridgmon of the Eastern Washington University women's cross country team will be competing at the NCAA Division I Championships Monday (Nov. 19) in Terre Haute, Ind., at 9:55 a.m. Pacific time on a 6,000-meter course. She will be the third female to be competing for Eastern in more than 17 years.

"The course in Terre Haute was built specifically as a cross country course," said head coach Chris Zeller. "It's pretty flat and all on grass. The weather is supposed to be decent; it can get really cold there this time of year. It should be a great race."

This is the first appearance for Bridgmon at the Championships. Only two other females and three racers overall have gone before her. Kari McKay went twice, in 1990 (finishing 69th) and in 1991 (placing 33rd). Amber Johnson is the last female that went, in 1999 (placing 64th).

Brandon Fuller is the only male racer to go to the Championships, in 2003 (finishing 132nd).

"At this point, I really believe there is no limit to what Mattie can do," added Zeller. "It will be her first time racing most everyone in the field, which can be a good thing because she doesn't have a preconceived notion of where she 'should' be. It would be a mistake to think the goal is complete by just making it to nationals. She wants to go there and compete at the highest level against the best competition. She is definitely ready."

A total of 31 teams were selected to participate in both the men's and women's Division I championships. Thirty-eight individuals, the first four athletes from each region who are not a part of a qualifying team and two additional qualifiers, were selected to participate in each championship. All individual qualifiers must have finished in the top 25 in their region.

Bridgmon, from Laramie, Wyo. finished 20th in the 6,000-meter race at the NCAA West Regional Championships in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday (Nov. 10) with a time of 21:01.35. Last year, Bridgmon finished 69th with a time of 23:08.52.

"Mattie ran a flawless race at the regional championships," said Zeller. "She came through the mile in about 35th-40th place and looked comfortable and controlled. She then began her march through the pack all the way up to 19th with about 600 meters to go. The plan is to run a similar style race in Indiana."

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