NEW YORK - The Columbia cross country teams had a strong race at the NCAA Northeast Regionals in Madison, Conn. Saturday, as the men's and women's teams both took fifth place, and sophomore Caroline McDonough and senior Thomas Poland qualified for NCAA Nationals.

The highlight for the Lions was the performance of sophomore McDonough. McDonough was once again the top finisher for the Lions in a big race, and this time, her finish was big enough to send her on. McDonough finished fifth overall, with a time of 20:12.6, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA National Championship meet, November 22 in Terre Haute, Ind.

Senior Erin Hays was the next to cross the line on the women's side, as she came in 32nd overall, out of 247 runners. Hays finished with a time of 21:11.3. Sophomores Erin Gillingham (42nd - 21:20.1) and Clare Buck (60 - 21:35.2) were next across the line, followed by seniors Julianne Quinn and Jacqueline Drouin and sophomore Noelle Van Rysselberghe.

On the men's side, 229 athletes competed, and senior Poland came in ninth. Just one spot out of an automatic qualification, Poland ran the course in 30:04.6, and should earn an at-large bid to the national championships for his performance. First-year Jacob Sienko was next to finish for the Lions, as he took 26th, in 30:50.0, and junior Justin Heck came in 29th, in 30:51.4. They were followed by a trio of seniors, Anthony Merra, Dustin Martin and Brendan Martin, while sophomore Benjamin Veilleux rounded out the team of seven.

Poland and McDonough will head to Terre Haute, Ind., for the NCAA National Cross Country Championships, which are being hosted by Indiana, Monday, November 22.