TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- For a team making its first appearance in the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championship for the first time since 1997, 19th place in the nation sounds pretty sweet.
"It feels pretty amazing that we were 11th in our region [New England] last year, and 19th in the country this year," said eighth-year head coach Jennifer "Jay" Hartshorn. "All in all, I thought we did really, really well. Everyone kept fighting the whole way through."
Led by senior captain Alicia Fannon (Haverhill, Mass.), the 17th-ranked Bobcats, who just entered the top 20 in the national rankings two weeks ago, backed it up by finishing with 424 points, trailing 18th-place Calvin (413) by only 11 points and 29 points ahead of 20th-place Lewis & Clark (453). Bates had its fifth and final point-scoring runner, junior Mira Carey-Hatch (Laconia, N.H.), cross the finish line ahead of any other New England team's fifth runner. Even better, Bates' sixth runner, sophomore Elena Jay (West Hartford, Conn.), ran faster than all but three teams' in the country.
Fannon came in an impressive 59th place among 277 runners, covering the 6-kilometer course in 22:26.6. After Fannon, there were no spectacular performances, just gritty ones. 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).
The Bobcats ran just minutes after the Bates men's team finished sixth overall, tying for its best national finish ever. It is the first year that both Bates' men's and women's cross country teams have both competed as teams at NCAAs.
Watch Charles Cullen's video of the NCAA Championship race: