INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Redshirt junior Will Mulherin (Yorktown, Va.) has earned an automatic bid to the 2011 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championship, the NCAA announced on Sunday evening. He is the first Hokie male NCAA cross country qualifier under Head Coach Ben Thomas and will be the first Hokie male to run at the NCAA cross country meet since All-American Brian Walter in 1989.
Mulherin led the Hokie men to a fourth place finish at Saturday’s NCAA Southeast Region Championship in Louisville, Ky., by placing fifth overall in a field of 218 runners. His time of 29:59.9 for the 10 kilometer race was a career-best in cross country and his fifth place finish was the second highest finish ever by a Hokie male at the regional meet, eclipsed only by Steve Taylor’s third place in 1987.
Mulherin and classmate Michael Hammond (19th, 30:43.3) each earned All-Region honors for the first time in their career and are the first duo to earn All-Region honors in the same season for the Hokie men since 1994.
Earlier this season, Mulherin placed seventh in a career-best 8k time of 23:19.3 to earn his second career all-conference honor at the ACC Championship Meet. He joined Devin Cornwall as the only Hokie men to become two-time All-ACC runners in cross country. Mulherin was also seventh as a sophomore in 2009 at the conference meet.
As a team, the Hokie men were not selected for an at-large bid to the NCAA meet. The top two teams in each race for all of the nine regions automatically qualify for the NCAA Championship, along with the top-four individuals on non-qualifying teams. Thirteen teams and two individuals from across the nation also receive at-large bids, for a total of 31 teams and 38 individuals who will compete at the NCAA Meet.
However, the men’s fourth place team finish was their highest at the regional meet since 1987, when the Hokies won the regional championship, and it matched the 1986 team for the program’s second highest finish ever at regionals. All seven men in Coach Thomas’ line-up at regionals will return next year.
The 2011 NCAA Division I National Championship Meet will be held on Monday, Nov. 21 at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center in Terre Haute, Ind. Indiana State is the host institution. The men’s race is scheduled to start at 12:08 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech cross country, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Track).