Tufts Women's Cross Country Aims to Receive Automatic Bid at NCAA Regional

MEDFORD – The No. 17 ranked Tufts women's cross country team will compete in the NCAA Regional at Bowdoin College on Saturday starting at 11 am.

The top two finishing teams will earn automatic bids into the NCAA Championship and there will be 16 at-large bids available in the country after Saturday. The top seven individual runners in each region from teams that don't get an NCAA bid will also qualify for Nationals.

There will be seven runners for every team competing at Bowdoin on Saturday. The Jumbos will send seniors Natlaie Bettez (tri-captain), Olivia Barnett, Jennifer Jackson, Julia Noble, and Kelsey Tierney (tri-captain), junior Lydia Heely, and first-year Anna Slager.

The Jumbos finished second at the Regional last year which gave them an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Nationals. Bettez clocked a 21:26.8 for the six kilometers which was good for 11th overall. Barnett finished in the top 15 overall as she came in 14th with a time of 21:37.3. Tufts has qualified for Nationals in each of the past five seasons and is looking to extend that streak on Saturday.

Bettez has had a great senior season, as she has three first-place, one second-place, and one third-place finish in the five races she has competed in. Starting the year off on the right foot, she won the Pineland XC Shootout. The next week, she won the Purple Valley Classic. At the All-New England Championship, Bettez was the first Jumbo to finish first overall since Kathy Whitcomb won in 1975. She placed third at the Connecticut College Invitational. In the NESCAC Championship, Bettez finished second overall and earned First Team All-NESCAC honors for the third time in her career. She received two NESCAC and two United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Performer of the Week awards this fall.

Barnett has battled injuries most of the season, but competed in her first race when she ran at the All-New England Championship and finished 61st which was third-best on the team. She followed up that performance by placing 36th at the Connecticut College Invitational. The senior had her best mark of the year in the NESCAC Championship where she had a top 25 finish with her 24th-place mark. Jackson placed 21st at the Pineland XC Shootout to start the 2018 campaign. At the Purple Valley Classic, she finished 48th and was sixth on the team. She had her best mark of the season in the Maine State Invitational where she was 19th overall and was third on the roster. Jackson posted a top 60 finish in the Connecticut College Invitational. At the NESCAC Championship, she was 44th overall.

Noble started her senior year off by placing 14th overall at the Pineland XC Shootout. She had a 16th-place finish in the Purple Valley Classic which was second on the team. At the All-New England Championship, Noble was sixth for the Jumbos to place at 84th overall. The senior was the fifth Jumbo to cross the finish line after finishing 27th at the Connecticut College Invitational. Noble also partook in the NESCAC Championship. Tierney has also battled injuries, but her first event resulted in a 21st-place finish at the Connecticut College Invitational. The senior tri-captain finished in the Jumbo top five in the NESCAC Championship as she placed 36th.

Heely opened the 2018 year by finishing third overall at the Pineland XC Shootout and posted the second-best mark on the roster. She placed eighth and was the Jumbos' top finisher in the Maine State Invitational. At the All-New England Championship, Heely was 65th amongst the all-division competitors. The junior followed that performance with an 11th-place finish at Connecticut College. Heely was the fourth Jumbo to place and was 33rd overall at NESCAC's. Slager finished sixth in her first collegiate event at the Pineland XC Shootout. The first-year followed that up finishing 37th which was fourth on the team at Williams. She was the second Jumbo to finish at the All-New England Championship as she placed 34th. In the Connecticut College Invitational, she was 20th overall. Slager was 29th at the NESCAC Championship and contributed to the Jumbos' score.

Head coach Kristen Morwick's Jumbos started the season off with a win at the Pineland XC Shootout over host Bates by a 119-91 score. The brown and blue followed up that performance with a third-place finish at the Purple Valley Classic. At the Maine State Meet Invitational the team also finished third. In the All-New England Championship among teams from Divisions I, II, and III the Jumbos posted an eighth-place result. The brown and blue put together their fourth third-place finish of the year at the Connecticut College Invitational. Tufts finished fourth at the NESCAC Championship.

The NCAA Division III Nationals will be held in Oshkosh, Wis. on November 17.

Host Bowdoin College and Northeast Sports Network are producing a webcast of the NCAA Regional at https://www.nsnsports.net/colleges/bowdoin-college/


Written By Athletic Communications Intern Bryan Costello