2005 Women’s Cross Country Team
In 2005, Columbia captured its fourth straight Ivy League Championship title in one of the best runs in program history. The Lions rose as high as No. 7 in the national rankings and capped the season with a 13th overall finish at the NCAA Championships.
Columbia’s roster was anchored by a collection of some the best runners the program has seen, highlighted by 2012 Hall of Fame inductee Caroline Bierbaum. The team was also comprised of All-American Lisa Stublic, All-Ivy League honoree Tenke Zoltani, Stephanie Lenihan, Laura Meyers, Carmen Ballard, Anne Kennedy, Elizabeth Gill, Margaret Frank, Sussanah Shaw, Rachel Belt and Hilary Bontz.
Coming off its three-peat Ivy League Championship season in 2004, the expectations were high for Columbia entering 2005. The Lions received a preseason national ranking of 11 in the NCAA Division I Women's Cross Country Poll.
Columbia got off to an excellent start, winning the Binghamton Invitational to open the season. Running in their trademark "pack" style, the Lions placed six runners across the finish line from third through eighth place of the 5,000-meter to tally the team victory. The win propelled the Lions to 10th in the following NCAA Division I Women's Cross Country Poll.
The Lions came back just as strong in their next meet, winning the team title for the first time in the 26-year history of the women's competition at the Paul Short Invitational. Columbia placed four runners among the top-30 finishers in the huge field, which featured 300 competitors. The team kept its winning ways going at the Metropolitan Championships, claiming the program’s eighth straight at the time.
The expectations continued to rise for Columbia and its runners as Track & Field News predicted Caroline Bierbaum would win the 2005 NCAA Cross Country Championships in its October 2005 issue.
Gearing for the Ivy League Championships, the Lions were phenomenal, placing third in the Pre-Nationals meet. When the number three went up next to Columbia's name at the Pre-Nationals, indicating the Lion’s had finished third of 34 teams in one of the most prestigious collegiate cross country races, people and coaches noticed. The Lions were awarded the best national ranking in program history in the next NCAA Division I Women's Cross Country Poll, standing seventh overall.
At the Ivy League Championships, the Lions took care of business by winning the team crown behind three All-Ivy League performances, including a first-place finish for Bierbaum for the individual title. Bierbaum won with a time 17:01.4, breaking a 23-year old Heptagonals record of 17:09.8.
With national goals still on the board, Columbia continued its run of success at the NCAA Regional Championships. For the fourth straight year, the Lions earned one of two automatic bids to the NCAA Championships with a runner-up finish. Seniors Stublic and Bierbaum finished second and third to lead the Lions to go along with a 16th place finish by Zoltani to give the team three All-Region selections.
Bierbaum concluded her collegiate career by defeating all but one of 253 runners in the NCAA National Championships for a runner-up finish, the highest finish ever by a Columbia runner. Stublic also finished 23rd overall as the Lions capped the season with a 13th overall finish for the third consecutive year.