Bates senior Alicia Fannon ran perhaps the best race of her career Saturday at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championship, leading the Bobcats to 19th place in the country in their first venture to nationals since 1997.
It was the first time at nationals for the entire women's team, but Fannon (Haverhill, Mass.) was clearly undaunted. She placed 59th individually among the 277 runners in the race, covering the 6-kilometer LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind., in 22:26.6.
Among runners from New England schools, Fannon was an impressive eighth. By contrast, going against many of the same elite runners, Fannon finished 32nd overall at the NCAA New England Regionals the week beforehand, and 32nd the year before, earning All-New England honors both times.
Fannon led a very balanced effort by the whole team. Bates scored 424 points, trailing 18th-place Calvin (413) by only 11 points and 29 points ahead of 20th-place Lewis & Clark (453). The Bobcats had its fifth and final point-scoring runner, junior Mira Carey-Hatch, cross the finish line ahead of any other New England team’s fifth runner. Even better, Bates’ sixth runner, sophomore Elena Jay, ran faster than all but three teams’ in the country.
Bates saw its top five cross the finish line before any other New England team’s top five, and its top seven were in before all but one New England rival’s, Middlebury's.
Junior Gabby Naranja (Fort Kent, Maine) came in 129th overall, leading three Bates runners amid a very tight pack at 22:57.5, with senior captain Lindsay Cullen (Newburyport, Mass.) close behind in 134th overall among a tight pack at 22:58.3, followed right behind by first-year Hannah Zeltner (Bedford, N.H.) in 135th (22:58.8). Carey-Hatch (Laconia, N.H.) capped Bates’ point-scoring in 157th, at 23:08.8. Jay (West Hartford, Conn.) was close behind in 161st in 23:10.1, and junior captain Amanda Solch (Mountain Lakes, N.J.) was Bates’ final displacer, in 207th (23:30.0).