AMHERST, N.Y. - The Columbia men's and women's cross country teams were outstanding in their respective races on Saturday at the 2011 NCAA Division I Northeast Regional Cross Country Championships at Audubon Golf Course. The Lions took third in the men's 10K and the fourth in the women's 6K.
The No. 22 Columbia men totaled 96 team points and placed five runners in the top 23. The Lions fell just 24 points short of earning the automatic NCAA bid awarded to each regional's top two teams.
Junior Mike Murphy led the way for Columbia, finishing in 14th place with a time of 31:40.9. Junior Leighton Spencer was not far behind, taking 18th with a time of 31:49.1. Senior Kyle Merber (20th, 31:55.4) and sophomore Nico Composto (21st, 31:56.4) were the next group to cross the finish line. Senior Justin Heck was 23rd with a time of 32:04.7.
With the third-place finish on Saturday, impressive season résumé and top 30 ranking in the USTFCCCA NCAA Division I Men's Cross Country National Coaches' Poll, the Columbia men set their sights on earning an at-large bid. The NCAA Division I track and field subcommittee selects 13 at-large teams to compete in the NCAA championship meet.
After finishing in the top 25 of the Northeast Regional, Murphy, Spencer, Merber, Composto and Heck are all eligible for the two NCAA at-large individual bids.
The Columbia women totaled 151 team points and also were just 24 points back of earning the automatic NCAA bid.
First-year Waverly Neer had another sensational performance, taking fifth with a time of 20:44.6. Junior Caroline McDonough also ran a strong race, finishing 13th with a time of 21:08.7. Juniors Clare Buck (37th, 21.41.8), Noelle Van Rysselberghe (39th, 21:48.4) and Emily Lanois (57th, 22:11.1) rounded out the Lions' top five.
The Lions women also make a strong case for one of the 13 at-large bids for the NCAA championship meet. Their season résumé features a strong finish to the season with a second-place showing at the 2011 Ivy League Cross Country Heptagonal Championships and a fourth-place finish at the Northeast Regionals. The Columbia women are also technically ranked 32nd in the latest USTFCCCA Coaches poll with 14 votes.
Neer and McDonough are eligible for the two NCAA at-large individual bids because the both finished in the top 25 of the Northeast Regional.
|Men||Third Place, 96 Points|
|Women||Fourth Place, 151 Points|
|39||Noelle Van Rysselberghe||Jr.||21:48.6|