TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (ncaa.org) — Johns Hopkins University, including East Providence native Annie Monagle, totaled 153 points to capture its first NCAA Division III Women’s Cross Country National Championship at the LaVerne Gibson Championship Course on Saturday, Nov. 17.
The title is the first women’s national championship in any sport in Johns Hopkins history, and first Division III title since men’s swimming in 1979.
“I’m just so proud of them,” head coach Bobby Van Allen said. “We’ve had our ups and downs this season, but we came together and made it exciting and it worked. Everybody supported each other throughout the entire year and I think that was really the biggest difference.”
Hopkins defeated runner-up Wartburg by 63 points, the greatest margin of victory in a women’s Division III championship race since 2002. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps finished third with 233 points.
Three Blue Jays placed in the top 35 to achieve All-America status, as freshman Hannah Oneda finished 10th, junior Holly Clarke finished 25th and Monagle, a senior and East Providence High School alum, earned 32nd. Clarke is the first two-time All-American in program history.
“The goal was to win nationals from the beginning,” Oneda said. “I was relieved to earn All-America and I was excited to know that we had achieved our goal.”
The Blue Jays advanced to the front of the pack from the outset of the race. Oneda, Clarke and Monagle sat comfortably in the lead through the first mile, while the Hopkins three-through-seven runners were packed in the top 50.
“[The plan] was smart then heart,” Monagle said. “We broke up the race into two parts: we ran smart in the first half and then with heart in the second half.”
As the runners made their way towards the midpoint of the course, Oneda and Clarke continued to fight at the front of the pack as Amherst’s Keri Lambert opened a five-second lead. The pack of Ashley Murphy, Sophia Meehan and Lara Shegoski maintained solid positions within the top 90 places.
The Blue Jays runners found that their previous experience on the Laverne Gibson Championship Course at the pre-national meet earlier in the season worked to their advantage, as each runner improved on their pre-national time.
“We knew where the hills were and we knew where to go,” Clarke said. “That last stretch was definitely the hardest, but that’s where we had to kick and we knew what we had to do.”
Oneda managed to hold on to a 10th-place finish in 21:26, while Clarke charged home for a 25th-place finish in 21:48. Monagle passed nine runners to place 32nd in 21:56 — 49 seconds faster than her pre-national time.
The team scoring was not secured until Meehan led a trio of Hopkins runners to finish fourth on the team in 22:37, as Murphy and Shegoski rounded out the top six just behind Meehan in 22:38 and 22:39, respectively, to finish in the top 90. Sophomore Frances Loeb also finished strong, placing 168th in 23:13.
Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Christy Cazzola took the individual crown in 20:53, while Alison Steinbrunner (21:08) and Lambert (21:13) rounded out the top three.