Christy Cazzola (Sr. • Kaukauna) became UW-Oshkosh's third national champion when she defeated 276 runners at the NCAA Division III Women's Cross Country Championship held Saturday (Nov. 17) in Terre Haute, Ind.
Cazzola, who finished second at last year's meet and fourth in 2010, won the 6,000-meter race with a time of 20:53. She becomes the seventh three-time All-American in UW-Oshkosh history.
Alison Steinbrunner of Ohio Northern University finished a distant second with a time of 21:08, while Keri Lambert of Amherst College (Mass.) placed third in 21:13, Addie Tousley of Middlebury College (Vt.) fourth in 21:14 and Emma Lee of St. Olaf College (Minn.) fifth in 21:19.
Cazzola trailed Lambert by almost 11 seconds at the 5,000-meter mark of the race. She then began to close the gap and eventually passed Lambert with about 500 meters to go. Lambert faded to third place as she was passed by Steinbrunner down the stretch.
"It feels amazing and is the experience of a lifetime," Cazzola said. "I think being a cross country national champion is different than being a track national champion, so it's definitely a dream come true. I'd like to thank my coach, my teammates, the athletic department and my family for being supporters."
Johns Hopkins University (Md.) scored 158 points to easily capture the team title. It was the first national championship for the Bluejays.
Wartburg College (Iowa) finished second among the 32 teams with 221 points, while Claremont-Mudd-Scripps College (Calif.) placed third with 233, Williams College (Mass.) fourth with 266 and UW-Eau Claire fifth with 272.
UW-Oshkosh finished 29th in the team competition with 594 points. Helping Cazzola compute the Titans' score were McKenzie Kelly (Sr. • New Richmond), Taylor Bauer (Fr. • Fort Atkinson), Allie DeBaker (Jr. • Green Bay) and Danica Harrison (Fr. • Arpin). Kelly finished 70th with a time of 22:32, while Bauer placed 233rd in 23:51, DeBaker 241st in 23:58.10 and Harrison 242nd in 23:58.20.
UW-Oshkosh was competing at the NCAA Division III Championship for the 23rd time in 27 years.