The Shippensburg University women’s cross-country team had been working all season with goals of a strong finish at nationals. On Saturday, the team finally got to see its goal come to fruition.
SU’s squad placed 24th in the nation at the 2016 NCAA Divison II National Championships. The Raider’s sent seven runners to Abbey Course in Saint Leo, Florida, for SU’s ninth-consecutive nationals appearance under head coach Steve Spence.
With the warm southern heat beating down on runners, fans and participants, many had a nice break from the winter cold. Temperatures on the track reached above 70 degrees with 90 percent humidity. The blistering heat left the Raiders unshaken, as they put up 557 points, good enough to lead all schools from the Atlantic Region. A week earlier, SU took control of the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region by winning the Regional title with 57 points.
Senior Casey Norton tore up the competition, earning her first All-American status by finishing the race in 28th place. She was also the first Raider to complete the race.
Norton flew through the course, jumping 10 places during the final 1,000 meters of the race. She finished in 21:16. According to SU Sports Information, Norton became the first Raider All-American since 2012 and participated in her fourth National Championship.
Sophomore Lindsey Gerlach finished second for SU and in 136th place overall. She posted a time of 22:43.2.
Following Gerlach was junior Caity Reese, who burst out of the gate and finished third for the Raiders in 140th place. She finished in just 22:44.9. The No. 4 finisher for SU was junior Bryanna Dissinger, who completed the race in 23:08.2, earning herself 170th place in the national championships.
The final scorer for the Raiders was junior Lizzie Manickas. Manickas finished in 176th place in 23:12.
Behind Manickas was sophomore Jackie Kinkead who placed 195th with a time of 23:40. Freshman Lydia Cagle followed Kinkead, the 212th finisher in 24:11.
The women’s cross-country program has finished No. 16 or better in the nation every year since 1996. Last year, the squad finished No. 22 in the nation and continues to improve, looking to stay atop the national cross-country totem pole.
The young team continues to get better each season and hopes to make a splash at the 2017 NCAA Division II National Championships and bring coach Spence his 10th consecutive nationals appearance.
With the season now closed, the team looks forward to the track-and-field season.