Women's cross country qualifies for first NCAA Championship, places third at regionals

Women's cross country qualifies for first NCAA Championship, places third at regionals

NASHUA, N.H. - The Saint Michael's College women's cross country team will make its NCAA Division II Championship debut next month, earning one of the region's three qualifying spots after taking third out of 31 schools at the NCAA East Regional Championship on Saturday at Mine Falls Park. The Purple Knights will be represented on the national stage for the second straight year after senior Chloe Boutelle (Saratoga Springs, N.Y./Saratoga Springs) became the first member of the women's program to qualify for the NCAA Championship last season. The Purple and Gold men were 17th.

Saint Michael's, which was ranked fifth in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) East Region poll, scored 121 points to comfortably outdistance fourth-place LIU Post (189) and fifth-place Saint Thomas Aquinas College (206), which were sixth and third, respectively, in the regional rankings. Roberts Wesleyan College (31), which is 20th in the national poll, and T-No. 25 Stonehill College (45), claimed the top two spots. The three institutions will represent the East at the NCAA Championship on Dec. 6 in Louisville, Ky., at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park, as the top seven runners from each team will be eligible to compete.

While the women had the best regionals finish in program history, the Purple and Gold men totaled 444 points in a 30-school field for their best finish at regionals since tying for 12th in 2011. Thirteenth-ranked American International College won the men's meet with 33 points.

All seven Purple Knight women set 6K personal records on Saturday, including Boutelle shattering her own school record by 32 seconds. While competing at her third regional meet, she finished fourth with a time of 21:52 to eclipse her standard of 22:24, set on the same course during the 2012 NCAA East Regional Championship. The second Northeast-10 Conference finisher, Boutelle joined seniors Colleen Gilliatt (Grantham, N.H./Lebanon) and Lindy Heffernan (Sutton Mills, N.H./Kearsarge Regional) in earning USTFCCCA All-Region honors.

While competing at her fourth regional meet, Heffernan was 14th at 22:25.7, holding off three NE-10 foes at the line that were within 1.5 seconds of her. She also came within one second of Boutelle's former school record. Gilliatt claimed 20th place at 22:38.9 during her third regional, edging a Saint Thomas Aquinas harrier by 1.9 seconds. Senior Allie Gratton (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) was 41st in 23:23.4, besting Roberts Wesleyan and Stonehill opponents by 0.3 and 0.9 seconds, respectively. She took part in her third regional championship.

Junior Elizabeth Cubberley (Acworth, N.H./Fall Mountain Regional) narrowly trailed Gratton, taking 46th with a time of 23:26.5 during her first regional. She held off the next runner, from Assumption College, by 0.4 ticks. Also an NCAA East Regional Championship rookie, sophomore Molly Roush (Rouses Point, N.Y./Northeastern Clinton Central School) placed 57th at 23:44.0 to edge a Merrimack College competitor by 0.6 seconds. Junior Brianna McKinley (Moultonborough, N.H./Moultonborough Academy) claimed 119th at 25:24.6 in her second regional.

Six of the seven Purple Knight men also set 10K PRs during the race, while four made their initial appearances at the NCAA East Regional Championship. Senior Peter McKenna (Cohasset, Mass./The Brooks School) closed out his career by placing 54th in a personal-best 33:25 at his third regional, while classmate Alex Gilgore (Scotia, N.Y./Scotia-Glenville Senior) was 64th in 33:40, just four seconds off of his PR. Gilgore competed at regionals all four years.

At his second regional meet, sophomore Torin La Liberte (Madison, N.H./Kennett) was 91st in 34:44, followed by the four Purple Knights who made their debuts. First-year Mike Boyd (Islip, N.Y./Islip) placed 117th in 35:33, sophomore Cody Putnam (Alburgh, Vt./BFA-Saint Albans) took 130th at 35:52, senior Erik Hoiseth (Watertown, Mass./Watertown) nabbed 138th by finishing the course in 36:21, and sophomore Tyler Colbert (Byfield, Mass./Triton Regional/UMass Boston) earned 147th place after crossing the line in 36:58.