The recent history of the women’s NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional can be summed up by five schools; Georgetown, Villanova, West Virginia, Princeton and Penn State.
Since 2008, these schools have made up the top five places in the women’s region every year. Penn State coach Beth Alford-Sullivan described the Mid-Atlantic Region as a “notorious five-way battle,” but it is a battle that the Nittany Lions have found themselves constantly coming up short in.
Princeton, West Virginia, Georgetown and Villanova have each won the region at least once during this time period, but Penn State has never finished higher than third.
Senior and women’s team co-captain Brooklyne Riddersaid there is definitely a rivalry felt between these schools when they run against each other.
“Our region is pretty tough for us competitively,” Ridder said. “It always is good to have teams that are like right around you. That’s definitely going to play a part on how our mindset is going into it.”
The strength of the women’s Mid-Atlantic Region is evident in last year’s NCAA Cross Country Championships results. Georgetown went on to win the national championship, while Penn State, West Virginia and Villanova all finished in the top 15.
“It’s a healthy rivalry. It’s a fun rivalry,” Alford-Sullivan said. “We’re battling up against the programs that put everything into distance running.”
The Nittany Lions are in a favorable position coming into Friday’s meet to reverse this trend and possibly win their region.
The women’s squad is second in the region’s rankings behind only Georgetown.
The Penn State women have also been dealt a favorable hand by hosting this year’s regionals, giving them a needed edge over their rivals.
Junior Victoria Perri will be experiencing this rivalry for the first time and she said she is happy the meet is taking place at the friendly confides of their home course.
“We can be a little bit more relaxed,” Perri said. “We don’t have to travel and get everything together and things like that.”
The Lions have already enjoyed success against a couple of their rivals at their home course earlier this season at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational, where they beat both Princeton and West Virginia by a comfortable margin.
The course that they ran on in that meet in September will be the exact same layout and distance that the women will run this Friday for Regionals.
As much as the Nittany Lion women would love to have a regional championship under their belts, they are still focused on bigger goals that they set for themselves at the beginning of the season.
“You always want to come out and perform well at Regionals, but ultimately our goal is just to get ourselves to the next step of nationals,” Ridder said. “Of course you want to look at the competition that we’re lined up against, but we’re just trying to get to nationals.”