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Cross Country: Top-10 Finish Achieved
November 21, 2011 - Jim Butta
MORGANTOWN -- Paced by a program-best individual finish by redshirt senior Kate Harrison, the No. 9 West Virginia cross country team came in eighth place at Monday afternoon’s NCAA Championship in Terre Haute, Ind. Achieving its fourth Top-10 mark in five years, the team earned 297 points behind Harrison’s eighth-place individual finish with a 6k time of19:50, earning All-America honors for the first time of her WVU cross country career. “Harrison was spectacular today,” says WVU coach Sean Cleary. “With a shot of winning with 200 meters left before hitting the line in eighth place was a dream come true. She has come so far in the last year. It’s hard to imagine at what level she can be running at in another few years. “Injury and sickness hammered the group all week. I am so proud of the way they navigated the entire year, especially the last seven days. Most teams would not have handled the set backs with the poise this group demonstrated. We are excited to add another chapter to the history of this program.” Earning All-America honors for the second time of her career, junior Kaitlyn Gillespie came in second for the team in 27th place overall in 20:17.
“Gillespie was so tough,” Cleary says. “I am proud of her ability to put her sickness behind her and just run.” No. 4 Georgetown came in first place with 162 points, followed by No. 3 Washington in second (176) and No. 2 Villanova in third (181). No. 1 Florida State (189), No. 16 Oregon (281), No. 5 Vanderbilt (282) and No. 7 Iowa State (290) placed before the Mountaineers, who arrived before No. 11 New Mexico in ninth (322) and No. 13 Stanford in 10th place (332). In all, West Virginia topped 20 other ranked programs with its eighth-place mark. Redshirt junior Sarah-Anne Brault arrived in 68th place in 20:47, while redshirt senior Ahna Lewis (116th, 21:11) and redshirt junior Stephanie Aldea (172nd, 21:36) also scored points for the Mountaineers.
“Brault was phenomenal,” Cleary says. “She wasn’t able to run all week due to an injury sustained at regionals. After battling a cold the last few days, she gave this team her very best. Clearly an All-American candidate coming into the meet, Sarah ran one of the toughest races of her life to create this team result.” Racing in her final NCAA Championship, redshirt senior Kaylyn Christopher finished in 196th in 21:50, while redshirt junior Jordan Hamric came in 253rd place in 23:31. “Throughout the group, I watched this team fight and scratch for everything they could,” Cleary says. “Our seniors have done it all. They have been part of five Top 10 national performances in track and cross country in their five years with the program. They have been amazing athletes, but more importantly phenomenal young women.” Villanova senior Sheila Reid won her third consecutive individual title in 19:41.2, beating out Oregon’s Jordan Hasay (19:41.8) in a sprint to the finish line. Dartmouth’s Abbey D'Agostino came in third place and was pursued closely by Georgetown’s Emily Infeld (19:44) and Princeton’s Alex Banfich (19:45).
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