No. 4 women’s cross country placed third at the NCAA Div. III New England Regional on Saturday in Gorham, Maine. The women did not receive one of the two automatic qualifications for Nationals but were given an at-large bid on Sunday.
Hosted by the University of Southern Maine, Saturday’s race was held on the Gorham Country Club golf course. On a blustery day, the wind calmed and the sun came out as the start of the race approached.
In a field of 393 finishers representing 63 different teams, the Ephs were led by tri-captain Victoria Kingham ’18. She ran a tactical, smart race in the top pack, finishing in 20:59 for sixth place. Following Kingham was tri-captain Anna Harleen ’18. Harleen made a huge push in the last mile of the race to pass many competitors and finished in 13th place in 21:36.
Crossing the line third for the team was Audrey Rustad ’20 in 21st overall. She put in a hard effort that was rewarded with a time of 21:46. Next in was Erica Barrett ’21, whose conservative start had major payoffs late in the race. Barrett flew to the finish in 22:06, a personal record, which was good for 25th place.
All four women earned All-New England Regional honors, which go to the top 35 finishers.
The Ephs’ fifth runner and final scorer was Emily Harris ’19, who worked the slight rolling hills to pass competitors. She crossed the line in a stellar time of 22:25, a personal record, for 44th place.
The Ephs’ sixth and seventh runners also had strong races. Stella Worters ’18 and Emily Sundquist ’18, who worked together throughout the race, crossed the finish line just two places apart, both running 22:30. Worters and Sundquist placed 50th and 52nd, respectively. Their efforts displaced many runners on other teams.
Sundquist was the fastest No. 7 runner in the entire race, and both women beat the No. 5 runners on 51 of the 63 teams represented.
The top two teams, MIT and Tufts, received automatic bids to Nationals. The consistent and strong racing by Williams throughout the season put them in a good position to receive an at-large bid to the championship race, and the Ephs were one of the 16 teams awarded a spot by the NCAA on Sunday.
Assistant coach Sami Jorgensen praised the team’s performance on Sunday.
“The team has overcome setbacks and illnesses and pulled together in a focused and upbeat way,” she said.
She said she was also excited to see the “forward-looking attitudes of the team” as it gears up for NCAAs on Saturday in Elsah, Ill. The women’s race starts at noon.