Panther Cross Country Teams Headed to NCAA Championships

Panther Cross Country Teams Headed to NCAA Championships

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The Middlebury College women's and men's cross country teams will both compete in the 2019 NCAA Championship races hosted by Spaulding University and the Louisville Sports Commission. Both teams garnered at-large spots into their respective events. The races will take place on November 23 at the E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Kentucky. The men's competition will begin at 10:45 a.m., followed by the women's race at 11:45 a.m.

The 25th-ranked men are making their 10th-straight trip to the NCAA Championship meet. The Panthers have finished in 26th place or better in the previous eight national races, highlighted by a seventh-place effort in 2013. Middlebury earned its way into the event after placing sixth in the NCAA New England Regional race last Saturday hosted by Bowdoin. On the conference level, the Panthers won their first NESCAC title in 2010 followed by another crown three years later in 2013. This fall, Middlebury earned its second-consecutive third-place finish at the league meet, scoring 107 points at Williams.

Competing for the men will be senior captains Theo Henderson and Henry Fleming, along with classmates Jack Litowitz and Connor Montgomery. Joining them will be junior Graham Rainsby, as well as sophomores Alexander Kessler and Quinlan McGaugh.

Henderson, a two-time First-Team All-NESCAC recipient, has posted top-10 efforts over his last three races, including a runner-up finish at the conference meet. His output marked the highest Middlebury individual finish since Michael Schmidt won the meet in 2011, covering the course with a time 25:41.8. Henderson led the Panthers to the line in fourth place at the NCAA Regional with a time of 24:59.12 to earn all-region laurels.

A Second-Team All-NESCAC honoree, Fleming crossed the line in 10th place with a time of 26:00.7 at the league's championship meet. He has collected top-30 finishes in each of the last three races, placing 29th at the Connecticut College Invitational (25:23.4), followed by the conference meet two weeks later. During the NCAA regional, he stopped the clock with mark of 25:34.06 to finish 25th and garner all-region honors.

The 23rd-ranked women are making their 24th-straight appearance at the event, looking for a seventh NCAA crown. The Panthers previously won titles in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2010 with second-place finishes in 1999, 2002, 2004 and 2011. Middlebury earned an at-large bid to the championships after a fifth-place finish at last Saturday's NCAA New England Regional race. On a conference level, the Panthers have captured the NESCAC Championship on 14 different occasions, finishing in fourth place with 125 points in 2019.

Making the trip for the Panther women will be seniors Talia Ruxin, Meg Wilson and Erica Dean. Joining them will be juniors Phoebe Colvin Oehmig and Chloe Smith, sophomore Cassie Kearney, along with first-year racer Sophie Nardelli.

Ruxin finished 11th at the NESCAC Championships with a time of 22:47.1 over the 6K course to earn Second-Team All-NESCAC honors. This season, she has finished in the top-25 spots during all eight races she has run, including a win during at the Aldrich Invitational hosted by Middlebury in September. Last weekend at the NCAA regional meet, Ruxin led the Panthers with a 22nd-place finish in 22:07.02 to earn all-region accolades.

Wilson has also been a consistent top runner in her final season with the Panthers. She was the first Panther woman to finish the 6K league's championship race when she crossed the line in 10th place with a time of 22:46.8, earning her first all-conference award. Wilson has posted three top-15 finishes this fall in six races run, including a runner-up performance during the Vermont Tech Invitational. During the regional meet, she recorded a 25th-place effort of 22:16.22 for all-region laurels.

Kearney, a 2018 All-American with a 37th-place finish, has also been a consistent runner in her second season with the Panthers. She has garnered top-25 efforts in each of her five races, including a ninth-place finish (21:41.7) in the Connecticut College Invitational. Kearney was 25th at the NESCAC Championship in 23:29.1, followed by a 27th-place run last weekend at the regional (22:19.60) to record her second-consecutive all-region honor.