Women’s cross country places third at NCAA Regionals

Women’s cross country hosted the NCAA Div. III Regional at the course at Mount Greylock Regional High School, where MIT defeated a huge field of 57 teams with a low score of 40 points. Middlebury, the other favorite for the win, placed second overall with 65 points, and the women were third with 95 points.

Straight from the gun, a trio of Middlebury women, the full squad of Williams runners led by Emma Zehner ’17 and several MIT athletes close behind made aggressive moves to the front to free themselves from the horde of racers before being funneled into the first loop of the course.

Zehner pulled through with yet another strong race, reeling in the leaders to place seventh overall in 22:00.4. After the first mile, Zehner led a solid quartet of Ephs – Victoria Kingham ’18 (22:31.9), Hannah Cole ’17 (22:32.9) and Lacey Serletti ’16 (22:35.4).

Zehner separated herself from her teammates at the start of the third mile, establishing herself in the pack of several other top-10 finishers who focused on chasing down MIT’s top group in the latter half of the race. Kingham, who was recently crowned NESCAC Rookie of the Year, is also new to the sport of cross country, making her performance this season all the more impressive. Her ability to hang with the region’s best is a testament to her strength and skill, as she went out with Zehner and managed to remain ahead of a majority of seasoned competitors. Cole has progressively improved with each race and this weekend proved to be no different. Exercising her exemplary leadership, Talia Calnek-Sugin ’15 (23:01.3) led the tag team of Emily Sundquist ’18 (22:40.7) and Anna Harleen ’18 (22:42.6) for much of the race, until the pair eventually passed her to approach Serletti, finishing in 25th and 27th, respectively.

Williams may not have upset the regional favorites this year, but six out of seven women earned All-Region honors by placing within the top 25 finishers of the race.

The women qualified for the NCAA Div. III Championships, which will be held on Nov. 22 in Mason, Ohio. The Ephs are eagerly looking ahead to the NCAA’s, where the season will hopefully come to its climactic end as the top seven put the finishing touches on their stellar seasons.

“The women continue to improve as a team each time they race,” Assistant Coach Sarah Lagasse said. “It was fun watching them push, pull and inspire each other.”

At the conclusion of their season, the women will graduate Calnek-Sugin, Eirann Cohen ’15, Emily Gaddis ’15, Raquel Gibson ’15, Julia Hoch ’15, Oona Watkins ’15, tri-captain Anna Spiers ’15, tri-captain Amelia Ortiz ’15 and tri-captain Alison Smith ’15.