November 10, 2012

Nationals await women's XC after 2nd-place showing at NCAA regional

NEWVILLE, Pa. – Freshman Fiona Hendry helped lead the Haverford College women's cross country team into the national meet as the 13th-ranked Fords raced to a second-place finish Saturday afternoon at the NCAA Division III Mideast Regional hosted by Dickinson College at New Hope High School.

The top two teams at the eight regional meets across the country earn automatic berths into the NCAA D-III women's championship on Saturday, Nov. 17 in Terre Haute, Ind. Runner-up Haverford (79 points) and region champion Johns Hopkins University (63 points) nabbed the automatic spots at the Mideast race. Third-place Dickinson College (126 points), the third Centennial Conference team in the top three, looks to gain one of the nation's at-large bids into the NCAA championship race.

Hendry was the first Haverford runner to finish the six-kilometer course on Saturday, crossing eighth in a time of 22 minutes, 31.3 seconds. Another freshman, Hannah Oneda from Hopkins, captured the individual title with a time of 21:34.7.

The gap between Haverford's five scoring runners, a scant 36.5 seconds, pushed the Fords into second place. Hopkins' spread was 39.3 seconds while third-place Dickinson saw 66 ticks of the clock between its first and fifth runners.

Senior Andrea Tocci, 23rd in a time of 23:07.8, was the bookend on Haverford's scoring five to nail down the automatic berth for the Fords, but the two through four runners for the Fords were the hammer that drove the nail in deep.

Junior Emily Scott, freshman Nora Weathers and sophomore Katie Balmer finished less than a second apart for Haverford with the trio coming in 15th, 16th and 17th, respectively, as Scott led the three-pack with a time of 22:53.5.

All seven competitors for Haverford, including 27th-place Sara Hess and 32nd-place finisher Chelsea Thorsheim, earned all-region honors by finishing within the top 35 in the region. Hendry and Weathers picked up the additional honor of being named to the region's all-freshman squad made up of the top seven first-timers at the meet.

Saturday's second-place finish by Haverford is the highest by a Fords team since consecutive runner-up finishes in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Last season the squad finished fourth at the regional and 28th at nationals. A young and talented squad -- as well as a tight one -- hopes to use Saturday's finish, and the team's second-place result at the conference meet on Oct. 27, to vault into the top 10 at the national race next weekend.

2012 Mideast Region results (PDF): Team | Individual

Full D-III regional results across the country (courtesy of USTFCCCA)