Women’s XC powers to 4th at Div. III NCAAs

Women’s cross country took a podium fourth place out of 32 teams at Div. III NCAAs in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 17. Johns Hopkins took the team title handily with 158 points. Runner-up Wartburg amassed 221 points, followed by Claremont-Mudd-Scripps with 233. Williams’ team total of 266 points garnered the team fourth. After finishing second to MIT on Nov. 10 at the New England Regional Championship, Williams was pleased to emerge as the top-finishing Northeast team, outscoring MIT’s 291-point, sixth-place finish.

The Ephs continued a tradition of excellence at the national level with this year’s result, now having placed fourth three times in program history (the women also finished in fourth nationally in 1994 and 2003). This team placed third in the national championship last year and has finished among the top five teams 13 times in the past 20 years.

Christy Cazzola of Wisconsin at Oshkosh took the individual title out of 280 runners with a time of 20:53, and Alison Steinbrunner of Ohio Northern was runner-up in 21:08. Individual Ephs performances garnered the women two All-American nods: This year’s recipients of the honor, Kaleigh Kenny ’14 and Adrienne Strait ’15, have raced together throughout the season, and this meet was no different. Kenny had a phenomenal kick, finishing 16th in 21:31, and Strait followed up in 21:52, crossing the line in 28th.

“These two moved up all fall and likewise in this race, to emerge as first team all-conference and all-region and now All-Americans. They’ve earned every bit of these awards,” Head Coach Pete Farwell ’73 said.

Next for the Ephs was Shayna Barbash ’14, who finished in 81st with a final time of 22:36. Despite having fought an injury for the preceding few weeks, Alison Smith ’15 came up with a stellar performance, placing 90th in 22:39. Amelia Ortiz ’15 was next in 176th, and co-captain Brianne Mirecki ’14 finished in 252nd. Mirecki valiantly completed the race despite wobbling to the finish and being taken to the medical tent afterward, where she was joined by Louisa Lee ’14. Lee had placed fourth for the team the week before at Regionals, but was forced to drop out of this race due to an injury. “Both Brianne [Mirecki] and Louisa [Lee] gave all they had and showed lots of guts and desire,” Farwell said.

The women look forward to an even stronger season next year as all of the Ephs’ Nationals runners will return next year. The team will also welcome back 2011 national champion Chiara Del Piccolo ’14, who is currently studying abroad at Oxford, next season. Sorely missed will be this year’s graduating class, which includes Olivia Foley ’13, Yasmine Goelzer ’13, Blair Robinson ’13 and co-captain Celeste Berg ’13.

“This was a great season –  winning [the] NESCAC [and placing] second in the Region and fourth at Nationals. That’s hard to top, but our ladies will be shooting for a sweep [next season],” Farwell said.

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