Showing huge improvement over their seventh place finish in the Ivy Heptagonal Championships, women’s cross-country finished fourth at NCAA Regionals on Friday.
Taylor Knibb ’20 lead the Red throughout the day and qualified to race in the National Championship this Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin. Knibb is the first Red runner to qualify for Nationals in five years.
The Red competed against 35 teams on Friday, including upstate rival and 25th-ranked Syracuse, whom the Red defeated soundly. Both Syracuse and Iona bested the Red earlier in the season, but on Friday the runners in red and white would not be denied. The Red were victorious over rivals Harvard and Brown finishing in fourth place, but were just behind Yale, 27th-ranked Dartmouth, and 20th-ranked Columbia who rounded out the top 3.
“It was an unprecedented 1-2-3-4 sweep of the Northeast by the Ivy League, which has re-emerged as a national cross country powerhouse this fall on the women’s side,” head coach Artie Smith ’96 said. “The Ivy League teams are all in the top 57 of 350 teams, with the Big Red ranked at 42 nationally. We wouldn’t [finish] seventh in any other conference.”
Following Knibb, senior Annie Taylor finished the best time of her career at 22:19 and placed 18th and earned first team All-Region honors. Isabella Dobson ’21 followed Knibb, earning All-Region honors with her 22nd place finish after remarkably passing 15 runners in the second half of the race. Senior co-captain and Sun staff writer Gracie Todd placed 34th in 22:38 and passed 10 runners in the second half of the race.
“First and foremost I was proud of our team,” Smith said. “Ranked ninth in the Region entering the meet and coming off a frustrating seventh place showing at the Heps two weeks ago. [Our team] put it all together on a brutally cold and snowy day. Taylor [Knibb] coming through as an individual qualifier for nationals was the icing on the cake.”
Knibb has grown accustomed to leading races. She won the under-23 World Triathlon after winning the Grand Final for Team USA in Gold Coast, Australia in September. Before that she was the back-to-back U20 World Triathlon Champion. Nonetheless, she ran among an extremely competitive pack of runners throughout the race on Friday, in freezing snow.
She and Smith will travel to Madison, Wisconsin this Saturday for the race.