For the first time since 2012, both Bates cross country teams qualified for the NCAA Championships in the same season. They are traveling to Winneconne, Wis., to compete Saturday against the nation’s best.

“Although we run separate programs, we are totally invested in each other’s program,” men’s cross country head coach Al Fereshetian said. “This is what you want to happen — both teams to have success and have the chance to get out there and compete at nationals.”

The teams share striking similarities. Both the women and the men entered New England Regionals ranked No. 24 in the country. They both finished in sixth place at regionals, and they both qualified for nationals this year after coming up just short last season.

“Especially after the result from last year, this year was just a whole different feeling,” said women’s cross country captain Ayden Eickhoff ’19 of Corvallis, Mont. “After we found out the guys’ team was going too, we knew it was just going to be more of a communal competition over there, and we’re really excited about it.”

This marks the sixth time in program history the men have qualified for NCAAs and the fifth time for the women. This is the women’s team’s second trip to nationals in the last three years.

“Nationals is always hard,” women’s cross country head coach Jay Hartshorn said. ”If it doesn’t feel hard, you’re not working hard enough. You just have to prepare for how hard the experience is going to be and being really ready to put it all out there.”