After months of rigorous training, women’s cross country secured a convincing victory Saturday afternoon at the NCAA Div. III New England Regional. Hosted by Conn. College, the picturesque 6k course at Harkness Memorial State Park provided a dazzling backdrop for both the racers and the hundreds of cheering spectators.
In the team scores, Williams took home first with a low score of 44 points to runner-up Tufts’ 107 points and Middlebury placed third with 108 points. Both Williams and Tufts garnered automatic qualifiers for the NCAA Div. III Championship Race, which will be held in Winnecone, Wisc., this weekend.
The individual results were no less monumental for the Ephs. All seven runners earned All-Region honors by placing in the top 35, an impressive feat. Furthermore, the team placed four runners in the top 10 to secure the win.
Right from the gun, the trio of Victoria Kingham ’18, Hannah Cole ’17 and tri-captain Lacey Serletti ’16 asserted themselves near the front of the pack. Kingham led through the second mile, moving up steadily to 14th place in an aggressive and gutsy race. Cole and Serletti hung on from behind to stay competitive.
Eventually, Cole surged ahead and began to chase after the race leaders in what became a breakout race for her. In the final stretch, Cole busted out a ferocious kick to place second, just edging out Abby Shafer of New England College by a fraction of a second. Both had a time of 21:43.6. Maryanne Gong of MIT placed first with a time of 21:36.3.
Kingham finished a mere two seconds behind Cole in 21:47.5, fighting her own battle with first-year phenom Abigail Nadler of Middlebury, to place fourth. Serletti continued her dominance at the front of the pack by placing eighth in 21:55.1.
The second pack of Ephs consisted of Anna Harleen ’18 and Emily Sundquist ’18, and up-and-comers Michelle Buncke ’17 and Rebecca Delacruz-Gunderson ’18. After the second mile, the pack split up and Harleen worked her way up to a 10th-place finish in an impressive 22:01.7.
Delacruz-Gunderson was next across the line for the Ephs, finishing in 22:05.3 in 20th place. Sundquist placed 30th overall with a time of 22:18.8.
The final scorer for the Ephs was Buncke in 22:24.8, whose hard work over the last two years has allowed her to both compete at Regionals for the first time and earn All-Region honors by placing at a respectable 34th.
The women are deeply satisfied with their series of strong performances in post-season competition and eagerly await their trip to Nationals to prove their dominance. “Both our men’s and women’s teams were phenomenal this weekend at Regionals,” tri-captain Meg Richardson ’16 said. “We did a lot of great pack running, and then just blasted in at the end. I’ve been bouncing off the walls this week leading up to Nationals. It’s going to be really fun and exciting to show the whole country what we are capable of.”
This weekend, spectators and runners alike will gear up to make the long journey to Wisconsin for the NCAA Div. III Championship Race. The seven runners that competed today will be racing, and Richardson will travel with them as the alternate.