FULL RESULTS (pdf)
WINNECONNE, Wis. – Senior Alison Smyth (Billings, Mont./Billings West) placed 37th overall—missing All-America honors by just two spots—as the Carleton College women’s cross country squad tied for eighth place in the team competition at the 2011 NCAA Championships. Overall the Knights placed four racers among the top 100 finishers in a field of 277 runners.
This was the 12th time overall that Carleton has raced as a team at nationals and the seventh time in the last 10 seasons. This was the Knights’ best showing in Donna Ricks’ 19 years at the helm of the Carleton program and her team’s top finish since a seventh-place result at the 1991 Championships
“We focused a lot this season on winning the conference meet; that was our main goal,” said Carleton head coach Donna Ricks. “Then the team had to re-focus for regionals and re-focus again for nationals. That’s a lot to ask of our kids. To sustain high-level performances all season is really incredible.”
The six-kilometer course at Lake Breeze Golf Course was fast, flat and in firm condition. Smyth posted a time of 21:45.36, and Simone Childs-Walker (Seattle, Wash./Lakeside) was next to cross the line, finishing 46th at 21:53.60. Carleton’s other top scorers today were junior Rachael Klehm (Wellesley, Mass.) and senior Taylor ffitch (Portland, Ore./St. Mary's Academy), who placed 69th and 93rd respectively.
Kaitlin Randolph (Drummond, Wis./Drummond) was the fourth senior to score for Carleton, crossing the line 231st. Becca Herd (Fy./Colorado Springs, Colo./Cheyenne Mountain) and Haley Johnson (Jr./Golden Valley, Minn./Robbinsdale Cooper) were the other Knights competing, finishing 235th and 255th
“My assistant coach Cassie Funke-Harris has been a huge help this year. She and I focused this entire season on having all of our athletes to stay in control that first mile,” explained Ricks. “It allows you to be stronger mentally because you’re not exhausting yourself. If you race smart early, you can really work people down.
“Cassie and I talked about it a lot this summer and got everybody on board. It’s a different mindset and more positive way to run. It’s a lot more fun to be passing people at the end, rather than just trying desperately to hang on.”
As they say, the proof is in the pudding.
Carleton's Improvement Throughout the Race
The Knights’ top four finishers sat back early but made significant jumps during the middle and later portions of the race. “Points” is each runners result in the team competition (after removing non-attached racers and other teams’ non-scorers).
||1-mile mark||2-mile mark||3-mile mark||Finish||Points||Time|
The Knights—who tied with St. Lawrence University with 341 points—were the second team from the Central Region. Wartburg College, which beat Carleton at the Central Region Championships, was sixth overall and St. Olaf College finished 10th.
Washington University (Mo.) won the team competition with 70 points. The rest of the top ten included Middlebury College (111), Williams (153), Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (223), MIT (276), Wartburg (281), Plattsburg State (328), Carleton and St. Lawrence, and St. Olaf (368). Chiara Del Piccolo of Williams College won the individual crown with a time of 20:52.08.
This was the 10th time overall Childs-Walker competed at an NCAA Championship event and fourth time in cross country. However, Smyth was the team’s top finisher at both the regional and national meets.
“Allison has just been focused,” explained Ricks. “She works hard and keeps a real good perspective on things. She has a great race structure as she goes into a race with a concrete plan and keeps her composure about it.
“She’s done a tremendous job since day one of her first year on campus. I said she was she was going to surprise people. She had so much potential and the academic and athletic environment at Carleton has really brought her along as a person. She works hard and is a perfect teammate.”
Carleton was led by its senior class this season and that experience carried the team this season. Smyth and Childs-Walker both ran at nationals for the fourth time. This was ffitch’s third trip to the NCAA Championships and Randolph was making her second appearance.
“The reason we’ve been so successful is that this group of seniors really cares about each other. They’ve helped develop each other as runners and as people. The taught each other how to have great balance,” said Ricks. “You don’t get a group like this all the time.
“We’re fortunate to have a group like this come together. It’s a pretty unique situation. They were willing to work hard. They were so coachable. They never complained about workouts, just went out and did it. That speaks volumes. Their work ethic is unbelievable.
“It’s been a great season. Time to put closure to it, end on a good note. I’m going to enjoy this one for a while,” said Ricks.