Women’s cross country battled it out with NCAA No. 2 ranked MIT Saturday at New England Regionals, hosted by Westfield State, placing second with 71 points, just 3 points short of MIT’s 68.
Tufts placed third with 77 points, making for a tightly packed and highly competitive race in one of the most high-performing regions of the nation. A total of 406 women from 59 Div. III teams across the region tackled the flat, condensed course at Stanley Park. With its runner-up finish, Williams earned an automatic qualifier to the NCAA Championship meet on Saturday in Louisville, Ky., as did MIT. Several more teams from the region may qualify with at-large bids granted by the NCAA, and the top 25 individual winners from non-qualifying teams will also earn spots at the NCAA meet.
The individual leaders of the race included regional champion Brittany Bowman of Tufts, who broke away in the final 300 meters to win with a course-record time of 21:14.29 in the 6k. She outkicked runner-up Megan McCandless of MIT, who crossed the line in 21:16.40. Katherine Treanor of Amherst was third in 21:22.37 to round out the podium.
In such a tightly packed field, the danger of tripping or getting boxed multiplies. A pack of three Williams runners stuck with the leaders from the start, all finishing in the top 10 and finishing within 25 seconds of Bowman.
Anna Harleen ’18 placed 7th overall in 21:33.94 to finish as the top Eph.Carmen Bango ‘20 (21:37.77) and Victoria Kingham ’18 (21:37.93) raced neck and neck to the finish, crossing the line in 9th and 10th place, respectively. The trio surged in the final half mile to pass two MIT runners, and nearly secured the team title for Williams.
Tri-captain Maggie Peard ’17 and Emma Zehner ’17, former high school classmates, were the next Eph finishers in their penultimate collegiate cross country race. Peard finished in 21st place with a time of 22:01.32, in the best race of her Williams career. Zehner was close behind, crossing the line in 22:04.27.
Harleen, Bango, Kingham, Peard and Zehner all earned All-Region honors for placing in the top 35 individually, and their small spread of 29 seconds was instrumental in securing a runner-up team finish.
Emma Herrmann ’20, the other standout first-year, was sixth for the Ephs, placing 48th in 22:25.54. Tri-captain Laney Teaford ’17 rounded out the team scorers, finishing in 62nd place with a time of 22:42.68.
The overall spread for Williams’ top seven was a mere one minute and nine seconds, more than a minute less than MIT’s total spread of two minutes and 40 seconds, attesting to the depth of the Ephs’ top seven runners this fall season.
The women have one more week before flying out to compete in the biggest cross country race in Div. III. The NCAA 6k race will be held at Tom Sawyer.
Peard attested to the hard work and support of Head Coach Peter Farwell and the rest of the coaching staff this season.
“We are super fortunate to have an amazing coaching staff that has tons of experience with running and coaching,” she said.