WILLIAMSTOWN, MA—The Ephs will head to the Midwest this weekend for the 37th Annual NCAA Women's Division III Cross Country Championships. The meet will be hosted by Principia College, in Elsah, IL, at the North Farm Facility.
After a third place finish at Regionals, Williams is ranked 9th heading into the race. But in a race like Nationals, anything can happen. The field will be densely packed with very talented runners, so running a couple seconds faster can mean ten places or more.
The current favorite to win the race is Johns Hopkins University, which has won four out of the last five years. They won the Mid-East region handily and are expected to compete very well this weekend
The other top contenders for the team title are MIT and SUNY-Geneseo. MIT is ranked 2nd after winning the New England Region, while SUNY-Geneseo, another regional champion, is ranked third.
The Ephs will send seven racers plus an alternate to Elsah as they aim to see how high they can finish. After a 4th place finish last year and an upset victory in 2015, the standards are high.
This year, the Williams team is dominated by seniors. Co-Captain Victoria Kingham will be leading the team and will likely be racing with the top pack. Her final season has been very successful and she enters into NCAAs this year with high hopes and an impressive resume including a 2nd place finish at NESCACs and a 6th place finish at Regionals. Anna Harleen, another co-captain, will also be looking to improve on past NCAA finishes. She is coming off a good race at Regionals where she claimed 13th place and will try to carry that momentum into this weekend. Co-Captain Emily Sundquist is another experienced NCAA racer. She returns to Nationals after missing the 2016 season due to injury. This season she has performed well, including a 20th place finish at NESCACs. Stella Worters will be racing at NCAAs for the first time in her career after a fantastic senior season, which included a 17th place finish after an excellent race at NESCACs. In the final race of their college cross-country career, these seniors will certainly be racing their hearts out. Eliza Matt has earned a spot as the alternate after an excellent season.
Rounding out the team are four younger athletes. Junior Emily Harris' many years of hard work has paid off, and she has earned a spot at NCAAs for the first time. She stepped up as the Ephs' 5th scorer at Regionals. Sophomore Audrey Rustad will also be toeing the line at Nationals for the first time. After a first year riddled with injuries, she has claimed a spot among the top three for all of 2017. First-year Erica Barrett rounds out the top seven. Her love for racing and her hard work have helped her to an excellent first season. She earned 25th place in the New England Region.
In many years, the Nationals courses have been very flat, but this year features a hilly course. This should be beneficial for the Ephs, who train and race on hillier courses than most teams. However, the final result could vary tremendously based on how good each individual is feeling on that particular day. Said Head Coach Pete Farwell, "This is a great group of 8 united student-athletes, led by 5 seniors who have journeyed together to reach this culminating point of their Williams cross country careers." He is very excited to see them race on a true cross-country course with some amazing teams.
The race will go off at 12:15 CT and will be webcast by FloTrack.