Women’s cross country sets its sights on strong finish at nationals

HAVERFORD, Pa. – The eighth-ranked Haverford College women's cross country team looks to put the finishing touches on its impressive season with a strong showing at the 2012 Division III Cross Country Championships hosted by the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology this weekend.

Boasting a 36.5-second gap between their scoring runners, the Fords claimed the runner-up spot at the NCAA D-III Mideast Regional last weekend to capture an automatic ticket to this weekend's national meet. Freshman Fiona Hendry led the effort with an eighth-place finish (22 minutes, 31.3 seconds) in the six-kilometer race. All seven runners that competed for Haverford earned all-region honors due to the Fords' standout effort. Hendry, Emily Scott, Nora Weathers, Katie Balmer, Andrea Tocci, Sara Hess and Chelsea Thorsheim will aim to be at their best again this Saturday as Haverford competes against the elite runners in the nation.

Freshmen Hendry and Weathers will join sophomore Balmer and junior Thorsheim in making their initial appearance on the national stage. Scott, Tocci and Hess will provide a veteran presence as they each competed in the 2011 national meet where the Fords placed 28th. Tocci (pictured) and Scott also helped Haverford to a 25th-place finish in 2010 and Tocci gained valuable experience competing as a freshman in 2009 when the Fords came in 30th.

Haverford's young and talented squad has grown throughout the season under the watch of coach Fran Rizzo as it gradually moved up from its preseason U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) national ranking of 26th to its current spot of eighth. The Fords finished 10th in the nation in 1993 and another top-10 finish is within reach on Saturday.

The 6k race will take place at noon at the the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind. The site has served as the site for eight consecutive NCAA D- I Championships from 2004-11.

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