Cook leads No. 16 women's cross country to 5th place at NCAA Regionals

Katherine Cook will run in the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships for a second straight year, after she placed fourth overall at NCAA Regionals on Nov. 11, 2017 in Gorham, Maine. (Jay Burns/Bates College) 

GORHAM, Maine -- Led by senior Katherine Cook's fourth-place finish overall, the No. 16 nationally ranked Bates women's cross country team took fifth place for the second straight year at NCAA Division III New England Regionals, leaving the Bobcats with hope they will return to next week's NCAA Championships.

The top two teams in the eight NCAA regional championships automatically go on to compete at NCAAs, and there are 16 at-large teams also selected to compete. Bates earned its fourth-ever team berth into the national championship in 2016 after also placing fifth. The championship field will be announced by the NCAA on Sunday.

Bates scored 150 points -- 17 fewer (better) than last year -- to place fifth out of 56 teams overall, 33 points ahead of sixth-place Amherst and 37 points behind fourth-place Middlebury. MIT placed first with 58 points, followed by Tufts (92) and Williams (106).

Cook (South Burlington, Vt.) covered the 6-kilometer course at Gorham Country Club in 20:44.7, 0.5 seconds behind third-place Brittany Bowman of Tufts and 4.7 seconds ahead of fifth-place Abigail Nadler of Middlebury. Cook guaranteed herself at least an individual invitation to compete at NCAAs, and her top-35 finish made her a repeat All-New England awardee, up from 20th place in 2016.

Junior Ayden Eickhoff (Corvallis, Mont.) and first-year Abby Hamilton (Yarmouth, Maine) also earned All-New England honors placing 29th (22:11.8) and 35th (22:16.6), respectively, out of 393 runners competing.

Bates' final two scorers were also among the top 45 runners overall: junior Katie Barker (Burlington, Vt.) placed 41st (22:23.9) and sophomore Olivia LaMarche (Lynnfield, Mass.) placed 45th (22:25.6). Displacing for the Bobcats, junior Sarah Rothmann (Andover, Mass.) finished 57th (22:35.5) and senior Mary Szatkowski (Buxton, Maine) finished 92nd (23:16.2).

The NCAA Championships take place Saturday, Nov. 18 in Elsah, Illinois, hosted by Principia College.