The Gustavus women’s cross country team had a strong showing at the NCAA Division III Central Region Championships Saturday, finishing sixth as a team and placing three runners in the top 15 with two advancing to next weekend’s NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships at Ohio Wesleyan University.
Strong running by underclassmen guided a young Wartburg team to the central regional title hosted by Wartburg College at Waverly Municipal Golf Course, Saturday Nov. 12. The Knights were led by freshman Nicole Calabrese’s third place finish and top 40 finishes from the remainder of the top five which featured only one junior and two sophomores and freshmen. Carleton College was just five points behind Wartburg with a total of 107.
Gustavus junior Hailey Harren (Cold Spring, Minn.) added the title of “Central Region Champion” to her 2005 resume after crossing the line in 21:46.85 — 43 seconds ahead of second place finisher Keidra Anderson of Hamline. Harren got out to an early lead and continued to distance herself from the field throughout the race. “I don’t have a lot of speed and the end so I have to get out there,” Harren said. “My strategy is to just get out in the first mile and separate myself so I can take a more relaxed approach the rest of the race.”
Senior Kourtney Joyce (Wadena, Minn.) finished fifth, while fellow senior Ashley Cronen (Kandiyohi, Minn.) finished 15th. Harren and Joyce are among seven individual qualifiers for the NCAA meet from the Central Region. Harren, Joyce and Cronen each received all-region honors for their performance.
Sophomore Laura Edlund (Forest Lake, Minn.) was the next Gustie across the line, finishing 67th with a time of 24:49.15, while senior Mollie Lager (Robbinsdale, Minn.) stopped the clock with a 77th place time of 25:03.00. Sophomore Sarah Bernardson (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and senior Melissa Kittock (Buffalo, Minn.) rounded out the Gustavus team, finishing just seconds apart in 82nd and 83rd places, respectively.
In addition to Wartburg and Carleton, St. Thomas (139) and Macalester (140) qualified for nationals. Macalester edged out Nebraska Wesleyan by five points for the final spot. Individuals qualifying for the national meet included Harren, Anderson, Natalie Hanson of Concordia in fourth, Kourtney Joyce of Gustavus Adolphus in fifth, Leah Wurm of St. Benedict’s in sixth, Brittany Hubbard of Nebraska Wesleyan in eighth and Amber Uhlenhake of Luther in ninth. The NCAA Division III national meet will be held on Saturday Nov. 19 at Ohio Wesleyan.