History was made Saturday, Nov. 11 as all five runners from Elizabethtown College’s women’s cross country team earned all-region honors. The women finished runner-up to Johns Hopkins Univeristy and earned a bid to the NCAA Division III Championship. Out of all the teams at the event, Etown and Hopkins were the only two to have all five of their scorers finish in the top 30.
Having a goal in mind and being able to execute it are what these women strive for. Senior Brenna McNamee knew that if all five of their runners could make it into the top 35, they would have a chance to qualify for Nationals. All she had to do was run her best race and trust in both Coach Brian Falk’s strategy and her teammates.
“I try to stay calm throughout the race,” McNamee said. With friends, family, teammates and coaches all cheering and yelling, the craziness and intense atmosphere can be exciting, but may become distracting for some runners.
When running, senior Kelsey Brady thinks about her teammates and her parents.
“I want to succeed for them,” she said. When the atmosphere gets too intense, McNamee thinks about her race strategy and focuses on not overthinking the race.
The average pace for both Etown and Johns Hopkins was under 23 minutes. For Etown, McNamee, an All-Mideast Region runner, led the average of 22:44.2 with her own time of 22:26.5, taking 12th place overall.
Brady, the individual Landmark Conference runner-up, came in 15th place with a time of 22:31.2, followed by senior Maria Anderson, running a 22:34.5. First-year Kaitlin Donahue came in 27th place with a time of 23:03.8. Junior Colleen Kernan finished in 28th with a time of 23:05.0, so all five runners were in the top 35, earning them the All-Mideast Regional status.
The men’s cross-country team finished their season at the NCAA Division III Mideast Regional meet in eighth place. Sophomore Samuel Gerstenbacher and junior Tyler Alansky were both named all-region runners.
Finishing first at the Landmark Championship and earning Performer of the Year, Gerstenbacher finished in 29th with a time of 25:53.5, a new 8,000-meter personal best. Alansky was right behind him coming in 31st with a time of 25:54.3, another 8,000-meter personal best. Sophomore Ryan Rippeon crossed the finish line in 53rd place, finishing in 26:29.2, yet another personal record for Etown.
Senior Tommy Fitzgerald finished the race in 92nd place with 27:07.08, and first-year Pat Blaire finished the race for Etown, coming in 132nd place with a time of 27:38.8.
The men finished eighth out of 51 teams to bring a close to their season.
“My eyes teared up and I ran to my roommate [McNamee]to tell her the good news!” Brady said. “Our team as a whole worked so hard to get that automatic bid, and it was just such a proud moment.”
An emotional day came to an end as Etown was able to celebrate an incredible victory.
“To achieve the highest place Etown women’s cross country has ever achieved at Regionals is something I will remember forever,” McNamee said.
The women will compete at the NCAA Division III Championships at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois. The race will begin Nov. 18 at 1:15 p.m. EST.