Winneconne, Wis., Nov. 17, 2018 – Washington University in St. Louis ran to a narrow one-point victory for the 2018 NCAA Division III Women's Cross Country National Championship, while the Bears program had its top overall finish in school history as the men's cross country team ran to a second-place finish.
WashU won its second national title in women's cross country, previously doing so in 2011 also under the watchful eye of head coach Jeff Stiles. The No. 2-ranked Bears narrowly edged the No. 1-ranked and back-to-back defending national champion (2016 & 2017) Johns Hopkins University. WashU totaled 98 points compared to Johns Hopkins 99, led by junior Paige Lawler's individual national title.
Lawler is the first cross country individual national champion in WashU school history. Overall, her individual title is 30th in school history, joining a number of track & field, swimming & diving and tennis Bears. She crossed the finish line in 20:55.0, more than three seconds ahead of the runner-up, Claire Lamb from Otterbein.
Joining Lawler with All-America finishes were graduate student Aly Wayne (seventh – 21:12.6), junior Sophie Watterson (13th – 21:31.2) and senior Lisa Gorham (29th – 21:49.6). Posting the Bears fifth time was senior Molly Shepherd placing 79th with a time of 22:24.3. Every second was crucial in the Bears 6K times as multiple finishes were less than a full second ahead of the next runner.
All of WashU's runners similarly improved their standing as the distance grew. Sophomore Megan Girmscheid placed 112th (22:38.3) and freshman Gabby McGinn placed 151st (22:54.7) out of 279 competitors.
Lawler ran with the top pack for the majority of the race, posting top-10 times at each marker before pulling away in the final kilometer. She shot past Kaitlyn Mooney of the Coast Guard who had led the race from the previous three markers and outkicked Lamb on the final straightaway.
Wayne was 18th at the first distance marker, before pushing to 13th, ninth and seventh overall. She earned her second All-American finish in her career and posted her top finish at nationals, previously earning AA honors in 2016 while placing eighth.
Watterson earned All-American honors for the first time in her career after placing 41st in 2017. She climbed from 43rd at the first marker to 13th and in the process nearly matched her personal-best 6K time (21:29.5 at the Midwest Regionals in 2017).
Gorham shattered her previous career-best time, dropping nearly half a minute, while earning her first All-American honor. She rose the leaderboard from 85th (2320), 72nd (3K) and 44th (5K) to claim a top-35 finish for AA honors.
Shepherd nearly halved her first placement at the 2320m marker, moving from 151st to 79th overall. She scored 58 points for the Bears and placed 0.4 seconds ahead of the next runner. Shepherd who did not run at regionals, finished her career with a personal-best time to help the Bears claim the 23rd National Title in WashU history.
The WashU men ran to the top placement in team history, finishing second overall out of 32 teams competing and 280 runners. The No. 2-ranked Bears scored 110 points to No. 1-ranked North Central College's 43.
Senior Brad Hodkinson led the charge for the Bears and nearly the entire national championship as he broke away from the lead group at the 7.1K marker. The Snohomish, Wash.-native placed seventh overall, matching his placement of a year ago at Pacific Lutheran University. He finished the 8K course in 24:39.1.
Junior Nick Matteucci earned his first cross country All-American honors by crossing the finish line three runner after Hodkinson. He placed 10th overall with a season-best time of 24:43.9. Matteucci was 55th overall at the 2.3K marker and made his largest move between the 3K (49th) and 5K (30th).
Senior Peter Johnsrud earned his second consecutive All-American cross country honor by placing 31st overall. He averaged 5:00.9 per mile time and crossed the end line in 24:54.9 to edge out a nearby North Central runner.
Posting the fourth fastest time for the men was graduate David O'Gara. The two-time All-American fought through a late season injury to place 44th overall with a time of 25:02.8.
Sophomore Joe Stover posted the final time to count for the men, placing 56th overall. He finished in 25:12.8, posting a new personal-best time just a week removed from his previous best set at the Midwest Regionals.
This marks the second time in three years that the Bears cross country program has had trophy finishes (2016 – W-2nd, M-4th) and fourth time overall during Stiles tenure.