Women’s cross country win regionals to qualify for NCAA Championships; men’s team finishes 9th

The women’s cross country team won the NCAA Division III South/Southeast Regional for the second year in a row last Saturday, Nov. 16, while the men’s team earned a ninth-place finish.

The 12th-ranked women captured their fourth regional title with a score of 36 at Christopher Newport University (Va.). A total of 33 teams competed in the women’s 6k race. Emory University (Ga.) was runner-up (76 points), and Bridgewater College (Va.) placed third (106 points).

With the win, the Tigers have earned a trip to Hanover, Ind., for the NCAA Championships tomorrow, Nov. 23. Trinity placed 12th at last year’s national meet.

“Our team has some big goals that we have been working very hard to achieve and we will go out on Saturday and give it our all,” said senior Vanessa Moreno.

Trinity’s men scored 241 points and placed ninth of 31 team entries in the 8k race. Bridgewater (74) emerged as regional team champion, and Emory (91) finished in the No. 2 slot.

Senior Maddie Murphy won the women’s individual title, with a time of 21:33.89 minutes, establishing a new personal best, and nearly toppling the school record for the 6k. Moreno was runner-up to her teammate, clocking in at 21:59.04, which ranks third all-time at Trinity.

In addition, Murphy earned honors from the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association and was named the South/Southeast Region Women’s Athlete of the Year.

“I feel very fortunate to receive such an honor, and I’m truly thankful for my teammates who inspire, motivate and push me every day to be better and work harder. I could not have accomplished this success without them,” Murphy said.

A total of seven Tiger runners, including Murphy and Moreno, placed in the top-35 standings, earning All-Region accolades. Senior Rosemary Steup (22:23.90) finished fourth, junior Michelle Oberndorf (23:01.87) placed 14th and junior Nicola Hill (23:05.32) was right behind in the No. 15 slot. Senior Jackie Newell (23:05.73) finished at No. 17, while junior Autumn Kervella (23:39.91) came in at No. 32.

“The proudest moment of that race was watching Maddie secure that first-place finish, me coming in second and turning around to watch Rosemary, Michelle, Autumn and Jackie finish to win with a perfect score. It was a rather unexpected but fantastic finish,” Moreno said.

Murphy and Steup are the first and second Trinity cross-country student-athletes to compete at a national championship meet in all four years. Murphy is only the second Trinity runner to win regionals. This is the first time in Trinity cross-country history that athletes finished 1st and 2nd at regionals.

Sophomore Taylor Piske was the Trinity men’s only All-Region runner, finishing in 22nd place with a time of 25:55.25. Senior Gerardo Hernandez (26:44.39) came in at No. 52, and sophomore Chris Soto (26:53.57) was 57th.

Head coach Derick Lawrence was recently elected the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year for the second year in a row, and also received high honors from the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Lawrence, who is in his second season at Trinity, is the first coach to sweep both Coach of the Year accolades in back-to-back seasons since DePauw’s Kori Stoffregen in 2005 and 2006.

“It is a great honor to be named the conference coach of the year. When I found out that the only other coach to win in back-to-back years for both women and men was my college coach at DePauw, Kori Stoffregen, it made it even more special.  He was one of my mentors both as an athlete and later as a graduate assistant coach at DePauw upon graduation,” Lawrence said. “To have an athlete, Maddie Murphy, be named regional athlete of the year and to be named regional coach of the year in the same year is very exciting. Two other athlete and coach combinations achieved the same status this year out of the eight regions on the women’s side and only two on the men’s side, so it doesn’t happen too often. Maddie has worked incredibly hard to get to this point and is well deserving of the honor. She is dedicated to achieving her goals and this is an achievement she can be very proud of.”

The women will compete tomorrow in the NCAA Division III Championships in Hanover, Ind. The women’s 6k race begins at 11 a.m. (EST) at Hanover College. The championship will consist of 32 teams, with seven runners per squad, and 56 individuals from additional schools.