HAVERFORD, Pa. – The No. 25 Haverford College women's cross country team will race for a spot in the NCAA Division III Championship this weekend when it travels to the Mideast Regional in Newville, Pa. on Saturday. The women's race is set for a 12:15 p.m. start as the men will get the regional races underway with an 11 a.m. start.
The top two teams in the regional earn automatic bids to the NCAA Championship next weekend in Principia, Illinois. Individuals among the top seven runners not on the top two teams will also punch their tickets to the NCAA Championship. Sixteen at-large bids for those non-qualifying teams across the eight Division III regionals will be announced on Sunday.
Sixty-two teams have entered runners for this weekend's regional championship with each allowed to enter a maximum of seven runners. The Fords are currently ranked fourth in the Mideast Region rankings. Johns Hopkins (No. 1 nationally), Elizabethtown (No. 18), and Dickinson (No. 23) are favored to vie for the automatic slots along with the nationally-ranked Fords. Haverford is coming off of a third place finish at the Centennial Conference Championship where the Fords were topped Dickinson by just eight points.
Each of the Fords' three All-Centennial Conference performers from two weeks ago are also All-Mideast Region runners from the 2016 season. Katie Sullivan, a three-time first-team All-Centennial Conference runner, has garnered all-region recognition twice in her career. Her best finish was a ninth place showing during the 2015 season.
Two-time second-team All-Centennial Conference runner Nicole Giannetti will be entering her fourth regional race and has improved each season, placing 29th in 2016 for all-region recognition. Amelia Keyser-Gibson, fresh off her first all-conference recognition in cross country, will join Sullivan in her pursuit of a third All-Mideast Region accolade. Keyser-Gibson placed 12th during the 2015 championship for her best finish at a regional.
Haverford's fourth and fifth finishers at the Centennial Conference Championship were a pair of first years in Hannah Doll and Hannah Yeakey. Junior Sophie Drew and sophomore Mckenna Krall were the Fords' sixth and seventh finishers, but have yet to compete at regionals during their collegiate careers. Senior Sarah Wade does have experience at the regional meet with two appearances, culminating in a career-best 39th place finish last year. She was the eighth finisher for the Fords at the conference meet at the end of October. First year Molly Hawkins is also pre-registered for the team if one of the top seven are unable to compete.
Women's cross country has been to the NCAA Championship as a team 16 times in program history, including seven of the past eight seasons. On nine other occasions, the team has qualified individuals to the national meet. Haverford has finished runner-up in this meet six times with the most recent runner-up finish coming in 2012. Each of the other 10 team appearances at nationals have come with the Fords earning at-large selections to the NCAA field.