NORTHFIELD, Minn. – The young Carleton College women’s cross country team seems to be hitting its stride as a trio of Knights earned All-Region distinction at the NCAA Central Region Championships. First-years Ruth Steinke (Lima, N.Y./Honeoye Falls-Lima), Shira Kaufman (Leverett, Mass./Amherst Regional Academy), and Sally Donovan (Minneapolis, Minn./South) placed 12th, 17th, and 22nd respectively as Carleton finished in a fourth-place tie with Gustavus Adolphus College keeping the No. 29 Knights in contention for an at-large bid to next week’s NCAA Championships.
No. 9 Wartburg College captured the team title in the 28-squad field with 72 points, and No. 18 St. Olaf College secured the region’s other automatic berth in next Saturday’s national meet with 95 points. No. 22 Luther College was next at 125 followed closely by No. 29 Carleton and No. 15 Gustavus, each with 136 points.
Steinke finished in 22:50.5, followed by Kaufman at 23:04.0 and Donovan at 23:14.7. “The freshman trio had terrific races,” said Carleton head coach Donna Ricks. “They seem to thrive in competition, demonstrating sound races throughout the entire season.”
Seniors Rachel Klehm (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) and Haley Johnson (Golden Valley, Minn./Robinsdale Cooper) gave the Knights at total of five top-50 finishes as they crossed the line in 23:48.1 and 24:08.5, good for 37th and 48th places.
“Rachael and Haley have played an instrumental part in the overall success of this team, providing their leadership as captains in practices and meets,” said Ricks.
While Carleton’s and Gustavus’ top five took the same number of points, the Knights sixth and seventh racers—sophomores Colette Celichowski (Shorewood, Minn./Minnetonka) and Ahna Weeks (Carrboro, N.C./Chapel Hill)—both finished ahead of the Gusties’ sixth runner. The Knight duo took 65th and 77th places in 24:25.7 and 24:38.5.
By finishing among the top five in the region, Luther, Carleton and Gustavus will be considered for selection to the NCAA Division III Championships that will be held next Saturday, Nov. 17 at LaVern Gibson Course in Terre Haute, Ind.