By ZACH ROBBINS
Expectations were high as the women’s cross country team traveled to Winneconne, Wis. this past weekend looking to take home their fourth straight national championship. The 6,000-meter race was held at the Lake Breeze Golf Club and hosted by Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Despite getting off to a great start, the Lady Jays were unable to stay ahead of the pack and capture the title.
“Overall it was a really tough day. I think a lot of us went in to the race with the expectation of winning, without the worries of things not coming together,” senior Sophia Meehan said. “[Junior Tess Meehan, senior Hannah Oneda] and I had hoped to place with the top ten, and unfortunately it was not our best performance. However [sophomore] Caroline Smith ran an amazing race, which helped clinched a podium spot for us. It was a very upsetting end to the season for us. I truly believe this has been our best team yet, and I wish we could have finished at the top.”
Sophia Meehan led the team for the second consecutive year. Her time of 21:31 was enough for sixth-place on the day. Smith, in her first ever National College Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship, finished shortly after Meehan with a time of 21:35, a personal best.
“Going into the race I didn’t really know what to expect because I hadn’t run at a national championship cross country race before,” Smith, who finished in 12th place, said. “I was lucky to have upperclassmen who had been to nationals multiple times to show me how to prepare for the race. They always know how to calm my nerves on the starting line and ensure me that we’ve put the effort in throughout the season and are ready for the race. Our coach brings us to a lot of competitive division I meets which prepared me for the pressure and pace of nationals. During the race I was just thinking about how lucky I was to be there. Going into college all of my running goals were in the 800 meters, I never thought I could have similar goals in cross country. I used to say I was an 800-meter runner but I’m happy to be able to say I’m both an 800-meter and cross country runner.”
Tess Meehan joined Sophia and Smith in capturing All-American nods as she finished 35th with a time of 21:46. Three All-Americans are the second most Hopkins has had in program history. For the Meehan sisters, this was their second All-American distinction.
This year’s senior class finished as one of the most successful in school history with three NCAA Championships and a fourth-place finish this year.
They will certainly be tough to replace, but Hopkins has not seen the last of these seniors as the ladies begin to focus their efforts on the upcoming track and field season, where the Jays should be in the hunt for the national title as well.