WESTFIELD, Mass. -- The No. 25 nationally ranked Bates women's cross country team may have punched its ticket for its first team appearance at the NCAA Division III Championships since 1997, thanks to the Bobcats' fourth-place finish out of 51 teams at Saturday's NCAA New England Regionals at Westfield State.
Bates scored 145 points, finishing behind only No. 1 MIT (58), No. 3 Williams (75) and No. 5 Middlebury (89), and surprisingly well ahead of fifth-place and 17th-ranked Amherst (190) and sixth-place and 20th-ranked Tufts (210).
Bates' second through sixth runners were all better than their counterparts on all but the top three teams, underscoring Bates' powerhouse performance.
Junior Gabby Naranja (Fort Kent, Maine) led the Bobcats, finishing in 14th place among 366 runners overall. Naranja covered the 6-kilometer course in 22:05.23, and was the first of four Bobcats who earned All-New England honors by placing among the top 35 individuals.
Sophomore Elena Jay (West Hartford, Conn.) was the breakthrough performer of the day, finishing 25th overall in 22:18.03. Senior captain Alicia Fannon (Haverhill, Mass.) claimed All-New England laurels for the second straight year, placing 32nd in 22:23.97, and first-year Hannah Zeltner (Bedford, N.H.) came in 35th in 22:29.23, the fifth-fastest rookie in the field.
Junior Mira Carey-Hatch (Laconia, N.H.) finished in 39th place with her time of 22:36.13, a remarkably high placement for Bates' fifth and final point-scorer. Junior captain Amanda Solch (Mountain Lakes, N.J.) was 54th in 22:51.50, and senior captain Lindsay Cullen (Newburyport, Mass.) was the team's second displacer, in 90th overall at 23:26.50.
The top two teams at the meet, MIT and Williams, are guaranteed berths in next Saturday's NCAA championship race, in Terre Haute, Indiana. Middlebury, Bates and possibly Amherst are more than likely to receive at-large bids.