Cross Country Teams Finish in Top 11 Spots at NCAA Tournament

By Gabe Weissmann

The Middlebury men and women’s cross country teams topped off one of their most successful seasons to date in the Nov. 17 NCAA Cross Country Championship.

Racing at the LaVerne Gibson Cross Country Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind., the Middlebury men finished eighth in a 32-team field, while the women finished 11th in a 32-team field. The Middlebury men finished behind first place team North Central College, as well as NESCAC rivals Bates and Tufts, among other teams. Meanwhile the women finished behind first-placed Johns Hopkins as well as NESCAC rival Williams College who placed fourth in the race. The Middlebury women were just two points away from taking a top-10 finish from Hope College.

“It was very exciting for the men’s team to break the top 10 as this is only the third time that the men’s team has even made it to NCAAs,” Wilkerson said. “The women as well had a strong day, and missed the top 10 by one point.”

Captain Jack Davies ’13 led the men’s team to its best finish at an NCAA championship in program history.

“I think the coolest part about nationals was for about an hour and a half after the race, there was a timing error, and I wasn’t in the results,” Davies said. “The team was 12th without me, as the number one runner, and that’s better than we did last year. It shows that we’re a super-deep team and we’ve got a great future.”

Davies, who was named an All-American, finished 21st of 280 racers with a time of 24:57 in the eight-kilometer race — the best finish for a men’s runner in school history. The other top performers for the men included Patrick Hebble ’13 (58th), Nate Sans ’14 (81st), Kevin Wood ’15 (114th) and Wilder Schaaf ’14 (126th).

The Middlebury women were led by Panther standout Addie Tousley ’13 who finished fourth overall in the 277-women race. Tousley finished the six-kilometer race with a time of 21:14.70, just 21 seconds behind first place finisher Christy Cazzola of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Her finish was followed by 62nd, 124th, 127th and 162nd place finishes from Lucy Whipps ’14, Alison Maxwell ’15, Emily Atwood ’14 and Kate Rominger ’14, respectively. Tousley, like her teammate Davies, received NCAA All-American honors for her performance in the championship race and for her racing throughout the fall season.

Solid finishes from juniors and sophomores on both the men’s and women’s teams speak to Middlebury’s depth this season.

“This past season was totally about the team for both the men and the women,” said Wilkerson. “There have been some great individual performances and highlights but it always is about the team’s accomplishments. The teams relied on each other, raising the bar in training and practices.”

The teams now looks to next season, when they will need to fill the void of the graduating All-Americans Tousley and Davies. A talented crop of underclassmen will keep them in contention, speaking to the tremendous strides the program has made. Davies points to the work of Wilkerson.

“If you look at the progression of where this team has come, say over the last ten years since Coach Wilkerson got here … in Nicole’s first year here, we finished 41st of 42 teams at regionals, and in the span of ten years since she’s been here she’s taken us to regional champions,” he said.

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