The West Virginia cross country team will return to Princess Anne, Md., this weekend to participate in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals.
The Mountaineers finished in second place at this course Sept. 5, but WVU head coach Sean Clearly held most of the team out of competition because it was early in the season.
In order to advance to NCAA National Championships Nov. 23, the Mountaineers must finish in the top five.
"There will be five teams that are currently ranked in the top twelve in the country," Cleary said. "And with five teams in perfect position to qualify for the Nationals from this meet, our goal is to be among these five teams and be selected for the NCAA Race."
Cleary feels the familiarity with the course will give the Mountaineers a slight advantage over the teams that did not preview the course this season.
Clearly said a real challenge this weekend will be the poor course conditions caused by Hurricane Ida.
Although the Mountaineers are accustomed to running in unsuitable conditions, having done so in their last three races, the second-year head coach said it's tough to run a waterlogged course.
In addition to the course conditions, the Mountaineers will square off against four of the nation's top twelve teams including Villanova, Penn State, Princeton and Georgetown.
Cleary is also counting on the team's biggest strength – depth – to help them run a strong race.
"I am able to line up a group of ladies that are very well prepared and still have the option to change the line up for Nationals should we need to," Cleary said. "The girls have trained well in the last two weeks and are excited to run."
After taking partial blame for the Mountaineers' second-place finish at the Big East Championships Oct. 31, Cleary is confident his team is physically prepared for this event.
"We had the very best training week of the year last week and then freshened up the legs this week," he said.
Cleary is hopeful the hard work will pay off.
"We want to run the best race that we are prepared to run and to qualify for the National Championships," he said, "This will be a great opportunity to fine-tune for the Nationals."