photo courtesy of Patrick Holleran /Shannon Photography
Like last year, Sheila Reid was able to defend her title. Like last year, it came down to her and a few of her closest competitors. In 2011, Jordan Hasay of Oregon gave it all she had. Sheila Reid just had a bit more, winning over the 6,000 meter course, 19:41.2 to 19:41.8. For Reid, it was a bit of redemption, as she had lost to Hasay over 3,000 meters last spring. In third place, just one second back, was Abbey D'Agostino of Dartmouth, running 19:42.8, the best run by a cross country runner, male or female, in Dartmouth school history.
" I came here to win, " noted Reid after her hard-fought victory. Unfortunately, Sheila did not achieve the second of her goals: the team championships. Her team, Villanova had won the last two women's team titles, settled for third () behind Georgetown (162) and, in second, Washington (170). At 181 points, Villanova took third and, in fourth was Florida State (189), the number one ranked team all season.
The Georgetown team persevered. Emily Infeld was fourth, running 19:44.3 (Infeld is very tough runner). Claire Richardson was 50th in 20:37.2, Emily Jones was 54th in 20:40.5, Kirsten Kasper was 64th in 20:45.3, and Katrina Coogan, who finished 67th in 20:46.3.
In all of my years watching cross country races, I can not remember seeing many teams with only 62 seconds between first and fifth (and nine seconds between second and fifth) not winning. Coach Chris Miltenberg, Georgetown's coach, deserves a tip of the old hat for his runners' performances at Terra Haute.
The fact is that, over six thousand meters, it came down to ten runners with five hundred meters to go. With 100 meters to go, Sheila Reid and Jordan Hasay, athletes who have had experiences with the drawn out battles that distance races can become, put it all on the line. Six tenths of second separated Reid and Hasay. And less than one minute later, five Georgetown Hoyas, were all in, surprising Villanova, Florida and Washington just a bit.
The level of women's cross country is this: off your game by a few seconds and someone will push you back. The lesson in the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships is that teams push back too. With the closest team title since 2003, one wonders what 2012 will be like!
For links to the full NCAA.com story and results, plus links to Divisions 2, 3, pleaseclick below: