Women's x-country takes sixth at New Englands, looking good for berth at nationals

Maddie Dolins '17 (photo courtesy Westfield State)
Maddie Dolins '17 (photo courtesy Westfield State)

WESTFIELD, Mass. – The Brandeis University women's cross country team had its best finish at the New England Division III Regional Championship since 2013 today, as the 31st-ranked Judges put five runners in the top 70 and placed sixth overall out of 59 teams competing at Stanley Park in Westfield, Mass. By finishing sixth, Brandeis hopes to earn an at-large berth to the 2016 NCAA Division III Championships.

The Judges were paced by 2015 All-American sophomore Emily Bryson (Quincy, Mass./No. Quincy) who covered the 6-kilometer race in 21:44.37 to place 15th overall and earn her second career All-New England honor in cross country. Bryson placed 13th last year when she qualified for NCAAs as an individual. She was able to shave five seconds off her previous time on the course at Stanley Park, while improving by close to 20 seconds on her previous time at New Englands. Bryson will be looking to make a third NCAA championship trip in her four seasons at Brandeis, having finished 31st at nationals in cross country and 12th in the 3,000-meter run during the NCAA Indoor Track and Field championships last year.

Also claiming All-Region honors for the Judges was senior Maddie Dolins (Highland Park, Ill./Highland Park), who was named All-New England in cross country for the third time in her career by finishing in 32nd place with a time of 22:11.36. Dolins had finished in the top 35 as a freshman (20th) and a junior (29th) to claim All-New England honors. Dolins was competing in just her second meet of the season after dealing with injuries.

The Judges narrowly missed putting four runners on the All-New England team, as senior Kate Farrell (Windham, N.H./Windham) and sophomore Julia Bryson (Quincy, Mass./No. Quincy) finished 36th and 37th, respectively. They were two and four seconds shy of a top-35 finish with marks of 22:17.67 and 22:19.73, respectively. For Farrell, it represented a career-best performance at New Englands by 39 spots, having finished in 75th place and sixth on the team last year. Julia Bryson was the team's third finisher a year ago, but she improved her placement by 26 spots, having finished in 63rd place as a freshman last year. This was Farrell's first race at Westfield, while Bryson took 10 seconds off her time from the Judges' previous outing.

Sophomore Meaghan Barry (Marlborough, Mass./Worcester Academy) rounded out the Judges' scorers as the fifth-place finisher. She came in 69th place in her inaugural run at New Englands, covering the course in 22:56.57, more than three-quarters of a minute faster than her previous outing at Westfield.

Junior Kyra Shreeve (Northborough, Mass./Algonquin Regional) was the team's sixth runner with an 84th-place finish 23:11.62, while senior Ashley Piccirillo-Horan (East Granby, Conn./Granby Memorial) was seventh in 143rd place.

Ranked 31st in Division III headed into the New England Regional, Brandeis scored 189 points to finish six points ahead of 19th-ranked Amherst. Second-ranked MIT won the meet with 68 points, edging #5 Williams (71) and #6 Tufts (77). #10 Middlebury (149) and #8 Bates (167) finished in the two spots ahead of Brandeis. The Judges' sixth-place finish is their best since the 2013 squad placed fifth.

The Judges will learn tomorrow at 1 p.m. if they have earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Division III Championships which will be held next weekend in Louisville, Kentucky. They are looking for their first berth since 2013, when Dolins, Farrell and Piccirillo-Horan were all rookies. It would be Brandeis's fifth overall appearance. The New England has gotten at least six teams in three of the four years since going to automatic and at-large berths for NCAA qualification instead of a predetermined number of teams from each region.