Cross country: Women place 2nd, men 3rd at NCAA regional meet

| Sports Reporter

The Washington University women’s cross country team earned a spot in the NCAA Division III National Championship meet with a second place finish at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships on Saturday in Oshkosh, Wis. The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, ranked third nationally, won the race by 26 seconds.

The men’s team also ran well with a third-place finish, but the team needs an at-large bid to make the national meet. Top-ranked North Central College and No. 2 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire won the meet.

Junior Taryn Surtees anchored the women’s team, placing second overall with a time of 21:06. Sophomore Michael Burnstein recorded the fastest men’s time of 24:53, good for 16th overall. All five point scorers for each team were awarded NCAA All-Midwest Region accolades for their placements.

Surtees was followed by sophomore Liz Phillips (seventh place overall, 21:42), senior co-captain Molly Schlamb (13th overall, 22:00) and junior Jessica Londeree (15th overall, 22:06). “For the women’s team, this race was a step in the right direction,” Surtees said. “It wasn’t perfect, but we had a lot of solid performances.”

The team’s national championship berth is its sixth consecutive and ninth appearance at the meet overall. Last year, the Bears placed 12th at the NCAA national meet.

Despite these accomplishments, “the story of the day was definitely the men’s team,” Surtees said.

Burnstein competed for the first time since recovering from pneumonia and still recorded the team’s top finish at 16th place. Junior Dave Spandorfer (20th overall, 24:58), sophomore Matthew Schwab (21st overall, 25:02), junior Kwin Keuter (26th overall, 25:08) and sophomore Malik Nabulsi (35th overall, 25:20) followed Burnstein.

“I think the meet went basically as well as it could have. We were hoping to get fifth, and we got third,” Burnstein said. “The two teams in front of us are ranked first and second in the nation, so that says a lot.”

The women’s team has been preparing for the championship all season and is ready to make a run at the national title.

“It works in our favor that the race wasn’t spectacular. This way, we go into nationals under the radar and with no expectations,” Surtees said. “Our job is to run as a team, and I know we can do that.”

Over 40 non-competing teammates made the trip to regionals to cheer on the team, which the runners say contributed to their successes.

“The meet was everything our team represents, not just because of the runners, but because of the cheering teammates too,” Schlamb said. “To have both men and women qualify for nationals in an atmosphere like that was incredible.”

“Our performance Saturday showed that both men and women are ready to have great team races at nationals. I can’t wait to see what happens,” Schlamb said. The national championship meet begins Saturday at 11 a.m. (ET) in Cleveland, Ohio. The men’s race, should they qualify, starts at noon (ET).