Staff Writers: Bode Arignon and Michael O’Neill
The Wingate cross-country program received a big in-season boost
recently when the NCAA announced that it is moving this year’s Division 2
Southeast Regional set for Nov. 19 from McAlpine Creek Park in Charlotte
to the Bulldogs’ cross country facility surrounding the campus lake.
The opportunity came about as a result of scheduled host Queens
University’s surprising move to Division 1 over the summer, so Wingate’s
distance runners will benefit by hosting their first regional in three years and
10th in the program’s history.
“This venue adjustment adds one more layer of excitement to our
current season,” Bulldogs coach Pol Domenech said. “We cannot wait to
compete in front of our home crowd.”
Domenech expects hosting the meet, and the extra exposure that
comes with it, to help in the Bulldogs’ recruiting efforts.
The Wingate men won last year’s regional meet, while the women
finished second. This season, both teams have impressed halfway through
the campaign, reaching a program-best No. 4 in the national rankings.
The men are coming off a highlight-reel performance in the
prestigious Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.,
where they finished 12th in a 46-team field that included 40 Division 1
schools. Wingate had the highest finish of all non-D1 schools and finished
ahead of high-profile programs like Penn, Georgia Tech and Texas A&M.
“Two weeks ago, at practice … when Coach Pol told us that we might
host the regionals, I straight looked at my teammates and smiled and
hugged them because we got so hyped all of a sudden,” said Wingate
junior men’s runner Soheil Boufrizi. “Hosting such an important meet on
campus means a lot to me, as regionals is the last step before nationals. …
We run so many times on this loop around the lake, so it is also sentimental
to host regionals there, as if it was a reward for all the hard work my
teammates and I put in there. … We believe it will be a beautiful Saturday
The Southeast Regional will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19,
with the men’s 10K race and conclude at 11:15 a.m. with the women’s 6K.
“Hopefully we get loads of support from everyone at Wingate … and
we can make it a really fun atmosphere for everyone watching and racing,”
Wingate senior women’s runner Zoe Brickley said.
Potential opponents of the Bulldogs at the D2 regional will get a
preview of the on-campus course Oct. 14 when Wingate hosts the Bulldog
Stampede Meet that was originally scheduled for earlier in the season.
Regional hosts are required to host a “championship preview” meet prior to
the actual event, so when Wingate found out it had been approved to host
the regional, athletic department officials had to move fast to cancel and
reschedule the Stampede.
The races for the preview meet begin Friday afternoon—4:30 for the
women’s 6K and 5:15 for the men’s 8K.