VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Rocky Mountain College will have three runners competing Saturday at the 33rd annual NAIA women's national cross country championships at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
Junior Ana Richter, sophomore Rachael Hart and freshman Autumn Charges Strong will be among the 109 individual qualifiers for the 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) race, which begins at 11:30 a.m. (MST).
The national championships will also feature runners from the 32 qualifying teams, including Carroll College and Lewis-Clark State of the Frontier Conference.
Last year's field included around 325 competitors.
"I just want them to go out and run hard and compete the best they can," Rocky coach Alan King said of his national qualifiers.
Richter, from Billings, also appeared at nationals in 2010, while Hart, from Kalispell, ran in Vancouver last year.
This is just the sixth season for the Rocky program, with the Bears sending runners to nationals for the past five years.
At the recent Frontier championships in Helena, Richter placed third, Hart was sixth and Charges Strong, from Lodge Grass, was 14th.
Hart placed 132nd last year at nationals with a clocking of 19:42. Richter was 228th at 20:24 in 2010.
Hart has run an 18:09 this season, followed by Richter 18:15 and Charges Strong 18:53.
Rocky's women's team, ranked 16th nationally, just missed out on an at-large bid to nationals.
"They're kind of fired up," King said of his runners. "They're going to want to prove some things."
With rain in the forecast, the Bears will likely have to contend with a muddy course. The top 30 finishers in the race will earn All-America status.
The NAIA championships will be run at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence, Kan., in 2013 and 2014.