Bowling Green to host regional meet

If you’ve never seen REM’s music video for their song “Everybody Hurts,” you’re likely to get a first-hand account of it this weekend while traveling on Wooster Street and many other roads around town.

Over 400 athletes from 31 different universities are scheduled to invade Bowling Green Saturday. Their purpose is to compete in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional qualifying meet in cross country. The top qualifying teams and individual runners will advance to the NCAA Nationals in Terra Haute, Ind., on Nov. 20.

It will be the first time in nearly two decades and the third time in school history the University has hosted the meet.

“It has taken years of planning to host this event,” said cross country coach Cami Wells. “Course design, parking, timing systems, officials, volunteers – it’s a big event.”

Previous hosts of the Great Lakes Regional include a number of Big Ten schools, including Indiana University and Purdue. The last Mid-American Conference university to host the event was Eastern Michigan in 2004.

“It’s hard for MAC schools to host an NCAA championship. In fact, at most schools it’s impossible,” said assistant athletic director Sid Sink. “You need to have a course that can handle that many runners, and there are some important things to have [in order to] host the regional and our course being wide open and on the golf course is good for us.”

Sink ran for the Falcons in the late 1960s, when the Great Lakes Regional came to Bowling Green for the first time, and says having the meet in BG will be great exposure for the University and should have a positive economic impact for many local businesses.

“It brings a lot of people to Bowling Green, which is good for the town,” Sink said. “I’m sure almost every hotel in town will be filled on Friday night, and possibly some hotels in Perrysburg, as well.”

Hosting the meet won’t cost the athletic department much because most of the people working at the event are volunteers from the University, and according to Sink, it would have cost more money to send athletes to another site for the meet.

“In the long run, I think it will hardly cost us anything to put on the event because there are a lot of expenses that the NCAA will cover because this is an NCAA qualifying event,” Sink said. “And we’re saving a fair amount of money by not traveling our teams to a regional somewhere else.”

For many senior runners like Bridget Dalic and Kim Settle, the Great Lakes Regional will be their last go-around on the Mel Brodt Course.

“They have both had good careers here and this will be a nice way for them to finish their final home competition,” Wells said of Dalic and Settle. “The team is excited to run at home and they are confident after having finished in the runner-up position at the MAC meet.”

Settle is looking forward to the race.

“I know the competition is going to be tough, but I’m excited to get out there and finish my cross country career with a solid race,” Settle said.

In last season’s Great Lakes Regional, the Falcons had less than stellar finishes by both the men and women, with the men finishing 27th and the women finishing 22nd. However, Wells believes her runners have trained to peak for late season meets like the one on Saturday, and having home-field advantage doesn’t hurt.

“It is always an advantage to run at home, because you know the course and you have the most fan support,” Wells said.

The Great Lakes Regional will kick off with the National Anthem at 10:30 a.m. The women’s race is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. with the men to follow at 12:15 p.m.