The University community is among potential national champion-winning athletes yet again. Friday, Nov. 10, the women’s cross country team finished second at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional, earning a bid to the NCAA Championships next weekend.
For the third consecutive year and the ninth time out of the past 10 seasons, the Wildcats have achieved this honor and hope to succeed in gaining their tenth national title in women’s cross country.
Hosted at the Goodman Campus Course at Lehigh, the Wildcats ran with heat on their tails.
At the head of the pack, Bella Burda, a junior from Pleasant Valley, N.Y., was the top Villanova runner for the third meet in a row. Her 20:01.49 time in the women’s 6,000 meter race solidified her as the Wildcats’ ninth regional champion since the current NCAA regional format began.
Burda was among six Wildcat runners who placed in the top 20 overall, followed by sophomore Kaley Ciluffo (thirteenth place finish), freshman Rachel McArthur (fourteenth place finish), freshman Lauren Ryan (fifteenth place finish), junior Nicole Hutchinson (seventeenth place finish), and senior Katie Fisher (twentieth place finish).
In the post-race awards ceremony, each of these top six finishers were resultantly recognized as Mid-Atlantic All-Region runners.
These six can now join the total of 72 all-region performers that Villanova has had since 2000 (when the current system started) in recognition of their athleticism.
While the team race was close against Pittsburgh and Georgetown in the first half of the race for second place, the Wildcat runners’ hard work and grit paid off.
They secured their second place spot over Pittsburgh by the final 2,000 meters of the race. The Wildcats finished with 60 points, landing behind Penn State with 31 points in first place.
With scores above the other 28 competing teams, the rest of the top five placing teams were: Pittsburgh (85 points), Georgetown (88 points) and UPenn (180 points).
This will be the women’s cross country team’s twenty-ninth appearance in the NCAA championships (at a tie for fifth most all-time).
It’s shaping up to be great competition for the meet’s spread of teams. Following last year’s twenty-first place finish at the national meet, it will be exciting to see how our women compete on Saturday.