Oklahoma State wants to win the Midwest Regional, but it wouldn’t be upset if it comes in second.
The Cowgirls kick off the day at 11 a.m. on Friday in Iowa City, Iowa, and the Cowboys follow them at 11:40 a.m. The Cowboys and Cowgirls are the reigning champions.
Despite the first-place finish, OSU is looking for a second-place finish.
A top-two finish in the regional round puts teams through to the NCAA Championships on Nov. 19.
Kaela Edwards made her return for the Cowgirls last time out at the Big 12 Championships on Oct. 29. She finished 13th overall, and she was the second-highest Cowgirl behind Michelle Magnani who finished seventh.
“It definitely makes me feel good going into this next race and even just how workouts and runs have been going,” Edwards said. “I’m definitely ready to go. It’s just nice to have that rust-buster finally and now I can really grind and dig deep to find the runner I was last year and maybe even more.”
The Cowgirls will need her to do better than 13th to advance to the national round.
Coach Dave Smith said there are three good teams who will be fighting for the top two spots: OSU, Minnesota and Big 12 champion Iowa State.
“When we get to a point in the race where we feel like we’ve got Minnesota beat, that’s when we can take some chances and go for the win, but the first thing is getting through,” Smith said. “The women gotta keep their eye on Minnesota and try to match their moves and pretty much out-want them for the second spot.”
For the Cowboys, it might be a tough task to defend their titles. Smith said two of their top-six runners have had issues this week. He did not disclose who was having issues or what the issues were.
OSU can bounce back from those troubles if they come into play Friday because of its top six’s flexibility. Josh Thompson, Hassan Abdi, Sylvester Barus, Luiz Martinez, Anthoney Armstrong and Christian Liddell are usually mixed up in order of finish.
“It definitely takes pressure off because we’re all great runners and we all do well,” Thompson said. “If one’s doing well and the other’s slacking, we always have each other’s back, so it’s nice to have a deep roster.”
The Cowboys have won five straight regionals. They have also won 14 of the 19 Midwest Regionals since the event started in 1997. The Cowboys have won three national titles and finished runner-up once in that time span.
Despite the legacy left from previous years, the Cowboys’ goal is to get through to the national championships without getting hurt.
“I always feel like the more pressure comes from internal individually than it does from some legacy or something like that,” Smith said. “It’s more about every kid wants to run well. They wanna run well for themselves, for their teammates, for their program, and I think most of that pressure is there whether you’ve won 10 in a row or it’s your first.”