ELSAH, Illinois – Two of the Judges Cross Country captains capped their already great seasons off with incredible performances today at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships. Battling tough conditions, including rain and gust of wind up to 20 mph, senior men's co-captain Ryan Stender (Amherst, Mass./Amherst Regional) and junior women's co-captain Emily Bryson (Quincy, Mass./North Quincy) each earned All-American honors, with Stender finishing 28th and Bryson finishing in 20th. This marks the first time since 1995 that both the Brandeis men and women have produced a cross country All-American in the same season.
Bryson, now a three time All- American, put up her best showing at the national championships so far. After placing 31st as a freshman and 24th last year, she improved by four more spots for a 20th place finish today. Emily crossed the finish line in 21:13.1, a quick time on a very hilly course. Bryson's finish was also the highest finish at the NCAA Championships for a Brandeis women since Mariko Tansey Holbrook Neveu '03 finished 2nd in 2002. She was the sixth finisher from New England in this year's race, after finishing 9th at the New England Regional. Bryson was also fourth among University Athletic Association runners – after placing fourth at the conference championships.
Bryson becomes just the third woman and fifth person in school history to earn three All-America honors in cross country, joining Neveu '03 and Theresa Patten '94 among the women and George Patriarca '80 and Mark Beeman '82 among the men.
Fellow junior and UAA runner Khia Kurtenbach of U. of Chicago won the race in 20:39.2, as Johns Hopkins repeated as team champions, defeating Wisconsin-Eau Claire in second with the UAA's Washington University in 3rd.
On the men's side, Stender came away with his first All-American status after being very close last year. At last year's meet Stender was 37th with the top 35 receiving All-American. This year, Division III increased All-America standards to include the top 40 athletes. Even so, Stender was not content to replicate last year's performance, jumping nine spots and finishing 28th. Stender crossed the line in a time of 24:49.33, his third best time ever over the 8-kilometer distance. This was arguably his best collegiate cross-country race given the conditions and course layout.
Stender is the men's first All-America honoree since Paul Norton '11 finished 7th in 2009. Stender finished fifth among New England runners after taking 6th at the regional championships and was third among UAA runners after placing fifth at the conference championships.
Darin Lau of Wisconsin – Eau Claire won the individual race in a time of 24:03.59 while the team title went to repeat champions North Central College who won 57-196 over Wisconsin – La Crosse.
Today's meet concludes the Brandeis Cross Country season but look out for the Judges when they return to action on the track with their first meet at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston on December 2nd.
By Eli Waxler '19