Wisconsin Eau Claire Women Win Team Title; St. Lawrence's Pavlus Wins Individual Title
By Norm Weber
Wisconsin Eau Claire
CLEVELAND – St. Lawrence’s (N.Y.) Wendy Pavlus demonstrated what just one year of hard work can do for a runner by winning the NCAA Division III national cross country championship today here at the Highland Park Golf Course after finishing 20th in the same race in 2008.
“I wasn’t planning on winning the race, but my fast start gave me confidence to win from the beginning,” said Pavlus, a junior. “With the preparation we did, the weather (mild for late November in Cleveland) favored my abilities to win today. Amy Farrell, my high school coach, gave me the inspiration I needed to use today and I owe my success to her.”
Last year’s champion, Marie Borner from Bethel (Minn.), finished second this season, passing Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Ayla Mitchell at the finish line after trailing her in third place upon entering the chute.
Pavlus’ winning time of 21:28 was a course record, previously held by Baldwin Wallace’s Lindsay Brickner. She won by 17 seconds.
Wisconsin Eau Claire won the women’s team championship, its first ever. The Blugolds accomplished the team title with having little spacing among runners, since its highest runner, Alyssa Sybilrud finished 21st overall and 14th in the team race.
Teammate Margaret Ho took 24th (33rd overall), Beth Easker and Hannah Humbach ran together and paced each other finishing 30th and 31st in the team race and 44th and 45th in the individual race, respectively.
Often the fifth finisher is the key runner in winning as a team and this was no different. The Blugolds’ Jenna Smith finished 72nd in the team race, which included 224 runners on 32 qualifying teams.
“Everyone focused on running a team race,” said Eau Claire coach Dan Schwamberger. “They have been patient with their training. They are a close group that is interchangeable. Our top three runners changed positions all year.“
Pavlus’ St. Lawrence team had as much of an improvement as a team from 2008 to 2009 as she did as an individual, jumping from 21st last year to second this year.
The top 35 runners in the overall race receive All American honors. Johannah Ludington (12th/8th) and Jenna Hulton (15th/11th) also earned All-American status for St. Lawrence.
Other top 10 runners were DePauw’s Lauren Reich (fourth overall), Oberlin’s Joanna Johnson (fifth), Denison’s Katie Navarre (sixth), Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Stephanie Perleberg (seventh), Trinity’s Caitlin Masse (eighth), Nebraska Wesleyan’s Jackie Spelts (ninth), and St. Norbert’s Jenny Scherer (10th).
In the team race, Eau Claire and St. Lawrence were followed in the top 10 by Calvin, Middlebury, MIT, Whitworth, Johns Hopkins, Williams, Genesco State, and Washington U. (St. Louis).