NEW YORK - The Columbia men's cross country team and first-year women's standout Waverly Neer will compete on collegiate cross country's grandest stage on Monday at the 2011 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.
Indiana State will host the Championships at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course located at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center. The men's race will begin at approximately 12:08 p.m. ET, followed by the women's race at approximately 12:58 p.m. A live webcast of the championships will be broadcast from noon to 1:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 21, on NCAA.com.
In addition, highlights from the championships will be included as part of the CBS NCAA Fall Seasonal Show scheduled to air on Sunday, Dec. 25, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. on CBS HD.
The top 40 finishers earn All-America status.
The No. 23 Columbia men earned an at-large bid last Sunday to punch their first-ever men's team ticket to the NCAA championships. The Lions had a dominating performance at the NCAA Northeast Regionals, placing five runners in the top 23. Junior Mike Murphy led the way with a 14th-place showing in the men's 10K, clocking in with a time of 31:40.9. The Lions men's team also consists of seniors Kyle Merber and Justin Heck, juniors Leighton Spencer and Ben Veilleux and sophomores Nico Composto and Jake Sienko. Junior Paul Snyder will travel with the team as an alternate.
The No. 23 Columbia men are the seventh Lions cross country team to earn an NCAA bid in school history and the seventh during the 18-year tenure of Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Willy Wood. The Columbia women sent teams to nationals six straight years from 2000-05.
Neer is the 22nd Columbia female cross country or track & field to qualify to compete in the NCAA championships. After overcoming an early-season back injury, she has been nothing but sensational in her last three races. Neer took fifth at the NCAA Northeast Regionals with a 6K time of 20:44.6. She had gutsy second-place showing in the snow and frigid conditions at the 2011 Ivy League Cross Country Heptagonal Championships on Oct. 29. Neer made her season debut with a 72nd-place finish in a loaded 305-runner field at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Oct. 14.
Monday will be a homecoming of sorts for Neer, who returns to her home state of Indiana. Neer's hometown of Russiaville, Ind., is just 120 miles away from Terre Haute. She attended Culver Academies, which is about 180 miles north of the site of the national championships.
Columbia sent two athletes to the 2010 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championship in Thomas Poland and Caroline McDonough. Poland placed 162nd out of 246 runners in the men's 10K. McDonough finished just shy of earning All-America status (awarded to the top 40) when she placed 43rd out of 253 runners in the women's 6K.
Columbia last fielded a team to the national championships in 2005 when the Lions women took 13th and Caroline Bierbaum finished second overall.