Women’s cross country in NCAAs for first time since 2008

The women’s team races to a NCAA-worthy finish. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

You’ll probably see the women’s cross country team boasting huge smiles around campus, but it’s not because they love their workouts so much. For the first time in five years, the women’s team has earned a highly desired bid to Nationals, making them one of four teams out of the Atlantic region to earn an at-large bid to the meet.

“It was probably one of the best feelings ever,” junior Tara Nealon said. “Especially because we qualified as a team.”

After winning back the much sought after NJAC title, the women have had a successful past few weeks that they look to continue in Hanover, Ind. this Saturday at the championship meet.

The great news of their national bid came after competing in their best performance of the season at the 2013 NCAA Division III Atlantic Regional Championships, in which the 7th-ranked Lions placed a terrific third against 38 competing programs.

“It made us all so happy to achieve that goal,” Nealon said. “It still doesn’t feel real.”

With senior Megan Flynn leading the lion pack in the 6K event to a 13th place finish event out of 269 runners, she put her team in an excellent position to receive an at-large bid, clocking in at 21:45.4.

Nealon and senior Anginelle Alabanza followed in 22nd and 24th places with times of 22:05.4 and 22:07.3, respectively.

The Lions have certainly made themselves known this season as individual recognitions have been pouring in. Head coach Justin Lindsey was named NJAC coach of the year, alongside five runners with all-conference honors, including Flynn and Alabanza and juniors Nealon, Megan Stack and Jillian Monzo.

The men were not as successful as the women but still placed a valiant 8th place of 39 programs at the meet, placing a spot above their 9th place ranking.

Freshman Andrew Tedeschi once again carried the team in the 8K event.

Tedeschi finished 30th in a field of 275 runners, crossing the finish line at 25:50.2.