Ninth at Nationals

After the Division III National Cross Country Championship Meet in Oshkosh, Wis., the Rensselaer women’s cross country team—and junior Ben Fazio—went out to a restaurant in Milwaukee to celebrate with an unusual and local treat: cheese curds. All performed excellently in their events, and having earned a ninth place title at the meet, they certainly deserved a treat.

Leading the seven RPI women who competed in the 6 km race at the Lake Breeze Golf Club was none other than sophomore Jaime Lord, whose 15th place finish won her the title of National All-American. Lord ran a season best of 21:37.3.

“Nationals was a really fun and exciting experience for all of us,” said Lord. “All summer we trained with the vision of nationals in the back of our head. I know I personally thought it would be impossible until we all started racing. The whole season was exciting to watch and getting a bid to nationals was probably the happiest I’ve been in a while. I was excited because it would be my first plane ride and we would get the chance to make RPI proud. Race day was freezing, but I was so excited the cold didn’t bother me.

“I like to get out fast so I don’t get boxed in when the race starts, [so] I sprinted to the front around the first turn and then dropped back a little, settling into a pace. The hardest parts were the first mile and a half and the last 200 m. In the first mile, everyone was so close to one another that everyone was elbowing and pushing and spiking each other. It was really difficult to maneuver my way through the crowd. Luckily the race spread out a little by the middle so pushing was no longer an issue.

“The last 200 m was very challenging because everyone was trying for a place and giving it their all… Everyone was in a mob. Looking back at the results there were three seconds between the 10th girl and me, the 15th girl. And six seconds faster would have put me at fifth. The whole race was fast and close. The first girl and last girl were only three and a half minutes apart.

“Finishing in 15th felt awesome. It’s the highest RPI has placed in a while. Knowing our team placed ninth the highest finishing team place in RPI history, was surreal. I was so proud of my team. We worked so hard and deserved the success that came as a result.”

Junior Shannon Trant was next for the RPI women, coming in 36th at 21:47.5. Junior and women’s team co-captain Maddie Dery placed 68th with a time of 22:07.5. The remaining Rensselaer runners, junior Mary West, senior Alexa Sakorafos, senior Loki Rasmussen, and junior Allison Thayer finished at 22:49.6, 22:52.5, 23:29.1, and 23:57.3, respectively.

Fazio was the only male on the men’s cross country team to earn a bid for the national meet. He placed 20th in the 8 km race in 24:47.2 despite tripping midway through the race and seeking medical attention afterward. Like Lord, Fazio was honored with the distinguished National All-American title following his performance this season.