TERRE HAUTE —
Another big-time cross country event will be coming to Terre Haute’s LaVern Gibson Championship Course this Saturday.
Rose-Hulman, the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau and “Cross Country Town USA” are serving as hosts for the 2012 NCAA Division III cross country championships.
The Gibson course served as the site for eight consecutive NCAA Division I championships from 2004 to 2011. In 2012, the Division I meet moves to Louisville, providing Rose an opportunity to host the Division III event.
More than 550 student-athletes are expected to compete in the two championship races. A total of 32 teams and 56 individual runners have been selected for the men’s and women’s races.
The city of Terre Haute has been proclaimed “Cross Country Town USA” because of this tradition of hosting nationally recognized events. The 8-kilometer men’s championship will start at 11 a.m., followed by the 6-kilometer women’s event at noon. The award ceremony will follow at 1:15.
“We’re looking forward to continuing the tradition of NCAA cross country national championships in Terre Haute,” meet director Matthew Cole said. “We’re excited to have the Division III coaches and student-athletes travel to Cross Country Town USA and compete at the nationally acclaimed LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course.”
On the men’s side, North Central College has won two of the last three national championships, with Haverford College claiming the 2010 title. Washington U.-St. Louis won the women’s national championship in 2011, with Middlebury College crowned the winner in 2010.
Haverford enters the NCAA Division III championships as the nation’s top-ranked men’s team, followed by North Central and Calvin respectively. Massachusetts Institute of Technology stands as the top-ranked women’s team, with Johns Hopkins and Williams ranked second and third.
“The course is in fantastic shape right now, considering the drought we had this summer,” Cole told the Tribune-Star. “We’ve had great cooperation with our mowing crews who have worked out at the course. They’ve done a fantastic job of preparing it for this weekend’s races.”
The Division III cross country championships will represent the sixth national event that Rose-Hulman has hosted. Previous Division III national events include the 1995 golf championships; the 2002 and 2003 women’s basketball championships; and the 2007 and 2009 indoor track and field championships.
Prior to Saturday’s championship races, Special Olympics athletes from throughout Indiana will participate in a 10:30 a.m. race.
Admission for the event is $5 per person. Gates will open at 9 a.m.