Mesa women’s cross country team falls short in regional
The Mesa State College women’s cross country team came close, but it wasn’t enough.
The Mavericks, ranked 15th in the nation, finished within six points of qualifying for the NCAA Division II national championships for the first time in school history.
Instead, Mesa finished in seventh place in the NCAA Division II Central Regional Championship on Saturday in Wayne, Neb. The top six teams qualify for nationals.
Adams State won the team title with 36 points. Western State took second, followed by Augustana (S.D.), the University of Mary (N.D.), Metro State and Minnesota-Duluth.
“Our two sick runners didn’t hold up,” Mesa State coach Gig Leadbetter said. “They had a hard race, gagging and hacking.”
One of the sick runners, Alexis Skarda, still managed to lead the Mavericks with a 19th-place finish, but the sophomore failed to qualify for nationals again. She placed 19th in the nation last year.
Mesa senior Esmeralda Martinez-Ramos finished 22nd, sophomore Kelsey Follett placed 32nd, senior Paula Hogue was 38th and sophomore Brooke Bosman was 73rd.
The two qualifying runners on non-qualifying teams were Colorado School of Mines’ Sydney Laws (4th) and Minnesota State-Mankato’s Ali Paul (6th).
Mesa State had to go the distance against a determined Western State team, but the Mavericks pulled out a five-game victory in Gunnison, 31-29, 18-25, 25-20, 24-26, 15-8.
Five players reached double figures in kills for Mesa State (18-10, 16-3 RMAC), who play Adams State at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday in the first round of the conference tournament.
Antoinette McCormick had 17 and hit .343, Tessa Andrews had 13, Ali Tompkins 13 and Lindsey Jefferson 13 off the bench.
Jefferson entered the first game and turned in her longest stint of the season after returning from an ankle injury. She had only three hitting errors in 25 attempts for a .400 efficiency.
Up 12-7 in the final game on back-to-back kills by Andrews, Jefferson recorded a kill, then Gabrielle Lovato (11 kills) and McCormick teamed up on a block. Whitney Howard put the match away with a service ace.
Tompkins recorded a double-double, adding 26 digs. Tara King had 18 digs and 57 assists.