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Both the MIT men’s and women’s cross country teams competed at the New England Regional Championship on Saturday, November 15. The women’s squad reached new heights, finishing in third place out of over 50 teams looking to qualify for the national meet. The result, the highest finish in program history at the regional meet, clinches a spot for the Engineers in the NCAA Championship next weekend in Hanover, Ind. MIT, currently ranked No. 16 in the nation, easily eclipsed its previous high of seventh place, which was achieved at last year’s New England regional. The men finished eighth, failing to qualify for the national championship, despite entering the meet as the fifth ranked team in New England and No. 23 nationally.

As she has done all season, Jacqueline M. Wentz ’10 (23:27) paced MIT, coming in 19th out of a field of 330 runners. By shaving 20 seconds off her 2007 time, Wentz is now the highest individual finisher at this meet for MIT since Debbie Won ’00 placed fifth in 1998. Andrea E. Bradshaw ’09 crossed the finish line directly behind Wentz with a time of 23:35. Maria J. Monks ’10 was the third MIT harrier to place in the top 30, completing the six-kilometer course in a time 23:48, good for 29th overall.

Jennifer A. Doyle ’09 dramatically improved on her 81st place finish in last year’s meet, moving up to 37th with a time of 24:02. Anna M. Holt-Gosselin ’11 rounded out the scoring for the Engineers, finishing in 24:36 to take 56th place. Katherine J. Eve ’12 did not figure in the scoring for the Engineers but did finish as one of the top 10 rookie runners in the region with her 64th place standing.

Middlebury College took home the top spot in the race, outscoring second place Williams College by 25 points (57-82). Amherst College senior Elise Tropiano was the top overall finisher, breaking the tape at 21:49, more than 39 seconds ahead of her closest competitor.

The Engineers will enter uncharted territory when they travel to the NCAA Championship next weekend. MIT has never participated in this meet as a team and has only sent four individual runners to compete in the race in the program’s 24-year history. The squad will be familiar with the course however, having already taken first place at the NCAA Pre-Nationals held at Hanover College last month.

The NCAA Championship will be held next Saturday, November 22 at the L.S. Ayers Athletic Complex on the campus of Hanover College. The women’s race will begin at 12:00 p.m.