If it feels like the first time, that’s because it is.
The Oneonta State women’s cross country team received one of 16 at-large berths for the NCAA Division III Championships, which are set for this Saturday in Hanover, Ind.
The Red Dragons’ first NCAA berth in program history follows their fifth-place team finish this past Saturday during the NCAA D-III Atlantic Region Championships at Letchworth State Park. The fifth marked Oneonta’s best regional finish and came two weeks after the Red Dragons placed a program-best second two weeks earlier at the SUNY Athletic Conference Championships.
“After arguably the longest 24-hour wait of their lives, the women’s cross country team is thrilled to find out they will be heading to Indiana,” fourth-year O-State coach Angelo Posillico said in a media release from the college. “These women have truly earned this opportunity and I never get tired of saying how proud I am of them.”
Senior Danielle Kennedy will lead Oneonta into the NCAAs. She completed the women’s 6-kilometer course in 21 minutes, 31 seconds — 24 seconds off the winning time of Rensselaer’s Grace Tilton — to place sixth overall. Kennedy’s sixth set a program record at the regional meet, finishing three spots better than Kaitlin O’Sullivan did in 2006.
O-State also received four other top-51 finishes as junior Marielle Genovesi placed 32nd in 22:32, sophomore Alyssa Drapeau finished 42nd in 22:44, freshman Mary Kate Bida took 46th in 22:47, and junior Jaclyn Masucci was 51st in 22:52.
Freshman Samantha Wilks (92nd, 23:34) and senior Allison Ryley (157th, 24:32) rounded out the Red Dragons’ top-seven finishes.
Kennedy and Genovesi earned All-Region honors for O-State, which will be one of 32 teams in the NCAA field. Team champion NYU and runner-up St. Lawrence automatically qualified as the Atlantic Region’s top-two teams.