Nixon leads women's cross country to 6th at NCAA Regionals

Bates' top four finishers at 2013 New England Regionals, from left to right: Mira Carey-Hatch (partially obscured), Gabrielle Naranja, Elena Jay and Kallie Nixon, led the way to a sixth-place finish as a team. Photo by Tom Leonard '78.

GORHAM, Maine -- Senior Kallie Nixon finished 11th among 371 individuals to lead the Bates women's cross country team to sixth place among 53 teams Saturday at the NCAA Division III New England Regionals, the qualifying event for next weekend's NCAA Championships.

The Bobcats were missing their top runner this year, sophomore Hannah Zeltner (Bedford, N.H.), to injury, but they still may have performed well enough to earn a second consecutive at-large bid to nationals. The NCAA Championship Selection Committee will announce the 32 competing teams on Sunday.The NCAA Championship Selection Committee will announce the 32 competing teams on Sunday.

Nixon (Medfield, Mass.) covered the 6-kilometer course at Narragansett School in 21:39.26, nipping Tufts senior Abby Barker by 0.12 seconds for 11th place, Bates' best individual performance at the meet in the past decade. Nixon will automatically qualify for NCAAs as an individual, whether or not Bates gets a team bid.

Junior Elena Jay (West Hartford, Conn.) earned All-New England honors for the second straight year, placing 28th in 22:07.18. Senior Mira Carey-Hatch (Laconia, N.H.) crossed the finish line next for the No. 21 nationally ranked Bobcats, placing 46th overall in 22:29.57.

Senior Gabrielle Naranja (Fort Kent, Maine) and sophomore Isabelle Unger (Charlotte, Vt.) rounded out Bates' scoring in 53rd and 59th, respectively, timing in at 22:37.18 and 22:47.10. Unger was the fifth-fastest No. 5 runner in the field. Bates' displacers were junior Sarah Fusco (Cheshire, Conn.), who was 71st in 22:54.97, and senior Julia Hanlon (Cambridge, Mass.), who was 97th. Fusco was the fifth-fastest No. 6 runner on any team.

Bates scored 197 points, 29 behind fifth-place Brandeis. Williams (44) and Middlebury (57) placed 1-2 to earn the two automatic bids to NCAAS. MIT was third at 127, followed by Tufts with 134. Bates outraced Colby by four points. Amherst, Wellesley and Keene State rounded out the top 10.