Cross Country Heads to National Championships

Women’s team awarded at-large berth, while two male harriers will compete individually

For the fourth straight season and the eighth time overall, the Tufts women’s cross country team will compete in the NCAA Championship Race this weekend. The Jumbos learned on Nov. 13 that they had been awarded an at-large berth into the national field, after finishing third at the New England Region Championship the day before.

On the men’s team, senior co-captains Tim Nichols and Luke O’Connor were selected as individual participants. Nichols and O’Connor extend the men’s streak of being represented at the NCAA championship to 23 years. The Jumbo men have had a team or individual in the race every year since 1994.

The 2016 NCAA Division III Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships will take place on Saturday (Nov. 19) at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Kentucky. The women’s race begins at 11 a.m., and the men step off at noon.

At the women’s 2016 regional on Nov. 12 at Westfield State University, Tufts junior Brittany Bowman won the race (21:24.29), and all seven Jumbo starters finished in the top 40.

Sophomore Natalie Bettez ran sixth, with a time of 21:32.86; senior Kelly Fahey was 14th overall with 21:42.89; and 26th overall was sophomore Kelsey Tierney (22:05.76). Senior Samantha Cox rounded out the team, scoring 30th overall (22:09.65). Senior Alice Wasserman ran 22:15.61 for 35th place, while classmate Lindsay Atkeson was 39th (22:20.60).

The Tufts women will run at nationals for the fifth time in the last six seasons. At the 2015 NCAA Division III Championship, they had their best national showing in nine years, finishing seventh. It was the highest NCAA finish by the Jumbos since the 2006 team came in fifth.

The Tufts men finished fifth at the NCAA New England Region Championship on Nov. 12. Fourth-place Middlebury earned an at-large berth. Nichols won the regional race in a time of 23:54.58. O’Connor finished close behind, in third place, in 24:32.45.

Nichols and O’Connor will be running at NCAAs for the fourth time. In each of the last two seasons, they were the team’s top two finishers. The Jumbos placed 17th overall in the 2015 championships and 22nd in 2014. Nichols was an All-American last season with his 19th-place time of 24:46.20. O’Connor’s best time at nationals came as a sophomore, when he hit a 25:10.1 mark.

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