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Columbia first-year Waverly Neer took 40th in the women's 6K of the 2011 NCAA Championships. The Lions men took 27th in the men's 10K.
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics

NCAA Cross Country Championships: Neer Places 40th, Earns All-America Status; Men's Team Takes 27th

Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics
          Release: 11/21/2011
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Individual Results | Men's Team Results | ON THE PHONE: Coach Wood

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Columbia first-year Waverly Neer capped her sensational rookie cross country season on Monday with a 40th-place finish in the women's 6K of the 2011 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships to earn USTFCCCA All-American status. The Columbia men's team, competing in its first-ever NCAA championship, took 27th in the men's 10K.

"For Waverly, in her first nationals, to come out and perform so well, we were so excited for her," Columbia Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Willy Wood said. "She executed the race plan perfectly and did exactly what we asked of her. For her to earn All-American status in her first national appearance was wonderful."

Neer was also the top first-year finisher in the NCAA's 254-runner field. With just enough burst at the finish line to hold off New Mexico senior Ruth Senior, Neer finished in 20:30.4 -- her best 6K time of the year. The top 40 finishers received USTFCCCA All-American status. Over the past month, Neer has also garnered USTFCCCA All-Region and First Team All-Ivy League honors.

"I'm extremely happy with today's results," Neer said. "I am most grateful for the opportunity to race given that I almost didn't have a season. It's been an exciting journey this season and I'm thankful for the teammates and coaches that I have at Columbia who helped me achieve this."

In the men's 10K, theColumbia men took 27th with a team score of 591. Senior Kyle Merber took 98th in the 252-runner field with a time of 30:47.4 lead the Lions. Junior Mike Murphy clocked in at 30:59.2 to take 125th. Sophomore Nico Composto (174th, 31:27.4), sophomore Jake Sienko (175th, 31:28.3) and junior Leighton Spencer (176th, 31:28.4) rounded out the Lions top five.  Senior Justin Heck finished 198th (31:46.8) and junior Ben Veilleux was 247th (32:45.5).

"I think the guys ran very very well," Wood said. "We were hoping to finish a little bit higher and we were very close to doing so. But they ran perfectly. It was a great performance for us. It was our first time out here and they really stayed composed. They executed the race plan well. Unfortunately, we very narrowly ended up on the backside of a pack where we could have finished in the top 24 or so. But I'm happy. The guys ran well and I think everyone can walk away from here feeling really good about themselves."

The Columbia men finished their season ranked 27th in the final USTFCCCA NCAA Division I National Coaches' Poll. The Lions were ranked for eight straight weeks, and were as high as No. 18 for two weeks.

Women      
Place Name Year Time
40 Waverly Neer Fr. 20:30.4

Men 27th Place, 591 Points    
Place Name Year Time
98 Kyle Merber Sr. 30:47.4
125 Mike Murphy Jr. 30:59.2
174 Nico Composto So. 31:27.4
175 Jake Sienko So. 31:28.3
176 Leighton Spencer Jr. 31:28.4
198 Justin Heck Sr. 31:46.8
247 Ben Veilleux Jr. 32:45.5

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