EMU sending three runners to NCAA Cross Country Championships

emu-sports-newFor the second year in a row, Eastern Mennonite University will be sending three cross country runners to the NCAA National Championships.  Women’s runner Hannah Chappell-Dick (Bluffton, Ohio/Bluffton), already an All-American from track season, took second place overall at Saturday’s South/Southeast Regional meet in Winchester, while teammate Kat Lehman (Dover, Ohio/Dover) crossed ninth and also punched her ticket.

The duo, who will each be making their second trip to the national stage in cross country, will be joined by junior Alec Thibodeaux (Mount Sidney, Va./Fort Defiance), who will go for the first time after finishing fourth in the men’s race.

Nationals are next Saturday at Lake Breeze Golf Club in Winneconne, Wisc.

The Royals sent three individuals to Nationals last year for the first time in school history, with Lehman joining then-seniors Ryan Gehman, the 2014 S/SE Region Champion, and Jacob Landis.

After winning the ODAC Championship race two weeks ago, Chappell-Dick was again out front with the lead pack from the opening gun.  The senior was just a few steps behind the leader midway through the race, and pulled away from the rest of the pack late to stay in second.  Chappell-Dick’s time was 22:15.5 on the 6k course, finishing only behind Emory’s Elise Viox in 22:05.8.

Lehman was also in that lead pack for much of the race, and slid back a few seconds for ninth, claiming the sixth out of the region’s seven individual spots at nationals.  The sophomore’s time was 22:49.1, as she finished just two-tenths of a second behind the eighth-place runner.  Both EMU women also claimed All-Region honors for their finishes.

Senior Jolee Paden (St. Joseph, Ill./St. Joseph-Ogden) had a good last race, crossing 62nd overall in 24:34.7.  Laurie Serrell(Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg) was 70th in 24:50.3 and Juni Schirch (Goshen, Ind./Goshen) took 78th in 25:02.0 to round out the top five.

Brittany Williams (King George, Va./King George) and Mary Eldridge (Gig Harbor, Wash./Peninsula) helped the team scoring by finishing 125th (26:04.7) and 136th (26:32.6), respectively.

The women took sixth place as a team with a total of 210 points.  After finishing third at the ODAC meet, the Royals jumped conference rival Bridgewater (230) at Regionals.  Emory, which had the individual champion and all five scorers in the top 15, easily won the team crown with 35 points.  Rhodes was second with 106 to also claim a team spot at Nationals.  ODAC champ Washington and Lee was third with 121.

Aside from the individual finishers, EMU Distance Coach Isaac Bryan thought the race was a great way to end the team part of the season.

“It was a very solid race for the women,” explained Bryan.  “We are very happy with a sixth place finish and to be the second ODAC school at the meet.  I am very excited for Kat and Hannah to move on to Nationals.  They ran smart races from the gun.”

Five of the ten women on the roster are seniors (Chappell-Dick, Paden, Schirch, Chafin Brumfield (Harrisonburg, Va./Spotswood), and Patty Danaher (Matoaca, Va./Matoaca)), with all but Chappell-Dick at their last collegiate race.

“Our seniors did an excellent job setting the tone and creating a culture of success this season,” said Bryan.

         
 

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