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Women's cross country finishes 19th at NCAA Championships

Jessica Wilson led the Bates women's cross country team to 19th place out of 32 on Nov. 19, 2016 at the NCAA Division III Championships in Louisville. (D3Photography)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The Bates women's cross country team took 19th place out of 32 teams competing at the NCAA Division III Championships on a chilly and blustery Saturday in Louisville.

The team's results were more than satisfactory for head coach Jay Hartshorn. "They all did great, especially considering that this was the first NCAA Championship race for all of them," she said. "The race is unlike any other they've raced in, because it is so competitive and goes out so hard. They continued to impress me with their ability to rise to the occasion." Race-time temperatures were in the low 40s with high winds to contend with at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park.

Senior Jessica Wilson (Cumberland, Maine) led the Bobcats as she has done in every race this season, placing 87th out of 280 individuals by covering the 6-kilometer course in 21:50.8. Wilson was 54th among runners competing with their teams and not as individual invitees.

Katie Barker (Burlington, Vt.) came second for Bates in 104th place overall (22:00.0), completing her breakout sophomore season. After Barker came first-year Olivia LaMarche (Lynnfield, Mass.) in 148th (22:17.4), junior Katherine Cook (South Burlington, Vt.) in 157th (22:19.2) and senior captain Molly Chisholm (Wayland, Mass.) rounded out Bates' team scoring in 216th place overall and 160th among team runners in 22:49.9.

Displacers for Bates were sophomore Sarah Rothmann (Andover, Mass.) in 237th place (22:58.6) and junior Mary Szatkowski (Buxton, Maine) in 242nd (23:04.3).

As has been a team signature this season, the Bobcats ran closely together. Bates' spread of finish times from its first runner to its fifth was 59.2 seconds, lower than all but four teams that placed ahead of the Bobcats -- one of them being national champion Johns Hopkins (32.6). Only three other teams -- none of them ahead of Bates -- had its top runner finish behind the Bobcats' lead runner, Wilson.

With 484 points, Bates was only six behind 18th-place RPI (478) and seven behind 17th-place Whitworth (477). The Bobcats outscored 20th-place St. Thomas (Minn.) by 13.

It was Bates' fourth time competing at the NCAA Cross Country Championships as a team -- previous excursions netted a 19th-place team finish in 2012, 15th place in 1997 and 18th place in 1995. Bates' success this season came as something of a surprise, considering the Bobcats placed 12th at NCAA New England Regionals a year ago and didn't enter the New England top 10 rankings this season until several weeks in.