Women's cross country places 17th at NCAA Championships

Katie Barker finished 34th overall to lead the Bates women's cross country team to 17th place at the NCAA Division III Championships on Nov. 17, 2018 in Winneconne, Wis. (D3photography.com)

WINNECONNE, Wis. -- The Bates women's cross country team placed 17th out of 32 teams competing at the NCAA Division III Championships Saturday, recording the second-best national finish in program history.

Senior Katie Barker (Burlington, Vt.) finished 34th out of 279 runners overall to claim All-America honors, the first of her career, leading the way for the Bobcats. Barker finished the 6-kilometer course at Lake Breeze Golf Club in 21:53.1. All-America honors go to the top 40 individuals (previously the top 35).

"We ran really well today," said head coach Jay Hartshorn. "We had a few issues getting off the line including a fall by Tara Ellard in a pack of people, but we moved up really well. It takes a lot of confidence to stay in control and just move up during the race."

The Bobcats stood in 29th place halfway through the race and passed 12 teams in the second half. At the 5-kilometer mark Bates ranked 19th, and the Bobcats passed Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Emory to claim 17th place.

It is the fifth time in program history Bates competed as a team at NCAAs -- previous trips netted a 19th-place team finish in both 2016 and 2012, 15th place in 1997 and 18th place in 1995.

Senior Ayden Eickhoff (Corvallis, Mont.) finished second for Bates, 124th overall in 22:43.8. Sophomore Abby Hamilton (Yarmouth, Maine) followed in 166th (23:00.2), with senior Sarah Rothmann (Andover, Mass.) close behind in 170th (23:04.0). Junior Olivia LaMarche (Lynnfield, Mass.) placed 184th in 23:10.0 to round out Bates' scoring. Senior Wendy Memishian (Medway, Mass.) finished 247th in 23:49.1 and first-year Tara Ellard (Brewster, Mass.) finished 251st in 23:57.7 as Bates' two displacers.

"I am happy for the whole team; this was such a great culmination of the season," said Hartshorn. "They have been so consistent and steady and really showed how competitive our conference and region is."

Barker becomes the sixth Bates woman to earn All-America honors in cross country, following Rebecca Watt (1985), Kristy Gould (1993), Adelia Myrick (1999), Kathryn Moore (2007) and Barker's former teammate, Katherine Cook (2017).

"Katie started taking more risks after Pre-Nationals, and I think she figured out that she really is one of the best runners in the country," said Hartshorn. "Our list of All-Americans is really the best of the best, and I'm glad she is joining this group."