Seniors Leah Anne Wirfel and Jenny Picot led the Slippery Rock University Women’s cross-country team to a fifth-place finish at the 2015 NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Championship race on Saturday at Lock Haven. Wirfel finished ninth overall with a time of 21:17 and Picot finished 11th overall at 21:19.
Head coach John Papa believes that the team had a very good race at regionals.
“Potentially, we could have done a bit better,” head coach John Papa said. “I believe that if all of our runners had their best race of the season, we may have been able to move up a spot or two. Rarely does everyone on the team have their best race of the season at once.”
The California (Pennsylvania) Vulcans took first place overall with 105 total points, followed by Edinboro with 112 points. Third place went to Shippensburg with 116 points, followed by East Stroudsburg (126), Slippery Rock (130), Bloomsburg (152), Seton Hill (164), Lock Haven (214) and Kutztown (223). Rounding out the top ten was Indiana (Pennsylvania) with 277 points.
“There were 25 points separating the top five teams, in crosscountry that is very close,” Papa said. “I believe that the top five teams in the region competed very well, we just needed a little extra.”
Individually, freshman Ida Narbuvoll from Edinboro took first place finishing the 6,000-meter race in 20:32, followed by Kate Dodds from Bloomsburg at 20:41. California’s Julie Friend took third place at 20:45 as Amanda Eisman from West Chester and Casey Norton of Shippensburg rounded out the top five.
Junior Kaylee Haberkam finished third for The Rock behind Wirfel and Picot with a time of 22:25, placing 33rd overall. Senior Jessica Bennett finished 38th at 22:28 and sophomore Tessa Dombi finished 42nd at 22:32.
“Our ladies improved quite a bit over last season and they competed courageously,” Papa said. “The fact that we had a very good performance and still placed fifth in the region tells us we need to work harder for next season.”
Sophomores Melissa Rains and Caitlyn Janeda also competed for The Rock. Rains came in 50th at 22:45 while Janeda finished in 56th at 23:00.
Slippery Rock’s season fell just short after Wirfel missed nationals by a very slim margin, but Papa is satisfied with the outcome of the season and is looking forward to next year.
“The goal will again be to prepare to our best ability, race courageously, and work together to be the best we can be,” Papa said. “Hopefully that will be good enough to have us in the top three places and earn a spot to the national championships next year.”