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Bears Edge Blue Jays For Second NCAA Cross Country Title

Washington University in St. Louis edged two-time defending champion Johns Hopkins University by one point for the team title.
Washington University in St. Louis edged two-time defending champion Johns Hopkins University by one point for the team title.

Individual champion Paige Lawler led Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) to a dramatic one-point victory over two-time defending champion Johns Hopkins University (Md.) at the NCAA Division III Women’s Cross Country Championship hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh on Saturday (Nov. 17) at the Lake Breeze Golf Club in Winneconne.

Washington University accumulated 98 points to nip Johns Hopkins University’s total of 99. The Bears, who finished second in both 2010 and 2016, claimed their second team championship and first since winning the 2011 title in Winneconne. Washington University’s one-point margin of victory is the narrowest since Middlebury College (Vt.) edged Amherst College (Mass.), 144-145, in 2006.

Johns Hopkins University maintained the lead in the team standings through each of the first three splits, including a 101-117 advantage with 1,000 meters remaining.

Johns Hopkins University, winner of five of the previous six team championships, had breezed to its prior two titles by margins of 95 points in 2017 and 74 points in 2016. The Blue Jays were the favorites to win their third straight championship, entering as the top-ranked team in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll while Washington University was ranked second.

Joining Washington University and Johns Hopkins University on the team podium were third-place Massachusetts Institute of Technology with 247 points and fourth-place University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with 265.

The top 10 teams also included fifth-place State University of New York at Geneseo with 277 points, sixth-place Brandeis University (Mass.) with 277, seventh-place Williams College (Mass.) with 283, eighth-place Middlebury College with 301, ninth-place University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with 313 and 10th-place Carleton College (Minn.) with 326.

Lawler won the individual title by overtaking the lead from U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s (Conn.) Kaitlyn Mooney with less than 1,500 meters to go and holding on with her time of 20:55.0. Lawler’s individual championship is the first in Washington University history.

Claire Lamb from Otterbein University (Ohio) finished second with a time of 20:58.7.

Rounding out the top 10 individual finishers were Annie Rodenfels from Centre College (Ky.) in third place with a time of 20:58.9, Mooney in fourth at 21:04.2, Brandeis University’s Emily Bryson in fifth at 21:08.3, Johns Hopkins University’s Caelyn Reilly in sixth at 21:11.3, Washington University’s Aly Wayne in seventh at 21:12.6, Natalie Cooper from The College of New Jersey in eighth at 21:14.3, Emily Forner from Allegheny College (Pa.) in ninth at 21:16.7 and Cassie Vince from Albion College (Mich.) in 10th at 21:21.2.

Washington University also had Sophie Watterson place 13th with a time of 21:31.2, Lisa Gorham finish 29th in 21:49.6 and Molly Shepherd capture 79th in 22:24.3.

The top 40 individual finishers earned All-America accolades.

The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh also hosted the Division III Cross Country Championships in 1999, 2011 and 2015.

2018 NCAA Division III Women's Cross Country Championship Website • National Site (NCAA)

2018 NCAA Division III Men's & Women's Cross Country Championship Website • Host Site (UW-Oshkosh)

Photo courtesy of Larry Radloff, D3photography.com