BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Having been not ranked in the region's top 15 all season, the Saint Joseph's women's cross country squad broke through with a gritty 13th-place showing in a field of 28 squads at the 2017 NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship, held at Lehigh University's Goodman Campus on Friday morning. The Hawks knocked off three teams that had been regionally ranked heading into the meet - Lehigh, American, and Delaware - with their 423-point performance.
Three of SJU's five scorers broke their 6k PRs, while all seven of SJU's racers set season-best 6k times.
"I am so happy with how the team raced today," said head coach Melody O'Reilly. "They put the Atlantic 10 Championship performance behind them and came out and ran with confidence. I'm very proud of how they bounced back."
Penn State and Villanova finished first and second to earn the automatic qualification for the NCAA Championship, to be held at Tom Sawyer Park in Louisville, Ky. next Saturday.
In the final 6k race of her collegiate career, paced by a 5:42.0 mile average, senior Cassidy Weimer clocked in with a collegiate-best time of 21:15.8, an improvement on her previous 6k PR (21:43.4), set on the same course in 2016, by over 27 seconds. The co-captain's performance was good for 46th in a field of 193. Weimer hit the first mile at 5:30.9 and the 3500m mark at 12:29.5 en route to the her new collegiate PR.
Paced by a 5:46.7 mile average, junior Lucy Harmon finished as SJU's #2 runner in a collegiate-best time of 21:33.1, good for 63rd overall. Harmon, who has enjoyed a breakthrough season in her junior cross country campaign, had reached her new 6k PR (23:24.8) back in mid-September and destroyed that time by nearly two entire minutes (1:51.7) in her first collegiate NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship meet.
Junior Lindsey Oremus finished strong as SJU's #3 runner, clocking in with a season-best time of 21:45.5 for 79th. The performance marked Oremus' second-fastest 6k of her collegiate career and was just 10.9 seconds off from her PR.
In the final 6k race of her collegiate career, graduate student Sydney Coughlin came through with her fastest 6k of the season (22:16.6) to place 112th as SJU's #4 finisher. The performance marked Coughlin's second-fastest 6k of her collegiate career, as she ran 22:10 for 6k on the Goodman Campus (Paul Short Run) back in 2015.
Junior Elaine Estes rounded out SJU's scoring with a collegiate-best time of 22:29.6, good for 123rd. Estes has had a breakthrough year this fall and crushed her previous 6k PR (22:53.2), set at the Goodman Campus (Paul Short Run) in 2016, by 20.38 seconds.
The Hawks will conclude the 2017 cross country season at the ECAC Championship, to be held next Saturday, November 18 at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y. The 5k race is slated to begin at 10:00 a.m.