Women's x-country finishes fifth at New Englands, earns at-large NCAA berth

We're going to nationals! (courtesy Nena Ragay-Lundkvist)
We're going to nationals! (courtesy Nena Ragay-Lundkvist)

GORHAM, Maine — The Brandeis University women's cross country team finished fifth at the New England Division III Regional championships on Nov. 16 at the University of Southern Maine, paving the way for the program's first NCAA Championship berth since 2001. The NCAA announced the Judges as an at-large squad in the 32-team field on Sunday, Nov. 17.

      Competing against a field that included six nationally-ranked squads, the 22nd-ranked Judges edged No. 21 Bates College for fifth place with 168 points to 197 for the Bobcats. Bates made the NCAAs in 2012 as the fifth-place team from New England. The finish is Brandeis's best since the 2001 campaign, when they finished fourth overall, and showed an 11-place improvement over last season's regional performances. The Judges finished 34 points behind 11th-ranked Tufts University.

Individually, Brandeis had three All-New England performances, their most since the 2001 NCAA season. All three Judges had previously also earned All-UAA honors.

      Leading the way once again for the Judges was senior Amelia Lundkvist (So. Portland, Maine/Cheverus). Lundkvist covered the six-kilometer course in 21:28.85 to finish in sixth place overall. The Judges have not had a top-10 finisher since 2002, when Mariko Tansey Holbrook '03 was the runner-up at both the New England and NCAA Division III championships. Lundkvist's previous best at a regional championships was 41st place last season as a junior.

      Brandeis's second runner was rookie Maddie Dolins (Highland Park, Ill./Highland Park), who finished in 20th place overall. Dolins, the UAA Rookie of the Year was the third first-year finisher at regionals and earned Brandeis's best finish by a newcomer since 1998, when Heather Davidson '01 was 12th overall. Her time was 21:53.20 for the 6K course

      Also claiming All-Region honors for the Brandeis women was senior Victoria Sanford (LaGrangeville, N.Y./Arlington), who came in 31st overall with a time of 22:11.10. Sanford was the team's top runner at UAAs a year ago, when she came in 21st overall. Her nine-spot improvement in the standings was coupled with an 18-second improvement by time.

      The Judges just missed a fourth All-Region honoree. Sophomore Kelsey Whitaker (Kingston, Mass./Notre Dame Acad.) finished in 38th place with a time of 22:19.68, less than three seconds out of a top-35 placement. Rookie Ashley Piccirillo-Horan (North Granby, Conn./Granby Memorial) rounded out Brandeis's scorers, coming in 73rd with a time of 22:56.19.

      Brandeis will now head to the NCAA Division III Championships, which will be held at Hanover College in Indiana, on Nov. 23.


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