ELSAH, Ill. – The Taylor University women's cross country team claimed a fourth-straight top-20 team finish at the NAIA National Championships after finishing 19th out of 36 teams at the North Farms Cross Country Course in Elsah, Illinois on Saturday afternoon.
The Trojans ran a team time of 94:53.6 and earned 486 points to score the 19th-place finish and placed four individuals inside the top 150 at Nationals for the fourth year in a row.
"I thought we raced well up front but lacked the depth we needed to score well as a team," commented head coach Quinn White. "We truly thought we could finish in the top-13 but sadly that did not happen. Although our ending was not what we wanted, we had a tremendous season. I am very proud of this team and the way they persevered. I feel like we have a very healthy team atmosphere and a culture that promotes a genuine love for Christ and for running. We will reflect on this season and move toward the future."
Mae Elizabeth Gimre logged her fourth sub-18:20 time of the season, crossing at 18:19.5 to lead all Crossroads League performers in 57th overall. Gimre posted a 23-second improvement over her time from last season's National Championships, in which she picked up a 59th-place performance.
Rachel Blagg also finished inside the top-100 by taking 99th overall with a time of 18:47.7. That time marked an improvement of over 95 seconds and 164 spots from Blagg's 2015 showing on the Nationals stage.
A pair of freshmen followed the sophomores of Gimre and Blagg across the line for TU, with Taylor Bluemel taking 117th at 18:55.6 and Naomi Noyes logging a personal-best time of 19:06.4 to finish in 137th overall.
Sophomore Michelle Franch rounded out Taylor's scoring, finishing at 19:44.5 to take 227th overall, while senior Hannah Schroder completed her third National Championships race in 241st with a time of 19:50.9 and sophomore Amanda Dibley took 276th at 20:16.7.
The 2016 NAIA Individual Championship went to Aminat Olowora of Oklahoma City, who topped the 334-competitor field by racing a time of 16:24.28 to win by nearly 45 seconds.
British Columbia claimed the team championships for the fourth time in the last five seasons by placing all five scores inside the top-36 to top Northwest Christian by 45 points.
The race marked Taylor's fourth-straight season with a finish between 10th and 19th at the NAIA National Championships. During those four seasons Taylor also boasts four Crossroads League Championships, the 10-fastest team times in program history, wins in 11-of-22 regular season races and a regular season win-loss record of 385-18.
The Trojans went 101-7 during the 2016 regular season, climbed as high as No. 7 in the NAIA Top-25 Poll, logged four of the 10-best times in program history and won the Crossroads League Championship.
Taylor will graduate Hannah Schroder and Kathryn Gerig from the 2016 squad but is set to return 17-of-19 student-athletes for 2017, including six-of-seven competitors from the 2016 National Championships lineup. The squad should be further bolstered by the healthy returns of Andi Foster, who claimed All-Crossroads League status in 2015 and Alex Berends, who raced to NAIA All-American honors in 2014 and was the back-to-back Crossroads League Champion in 2014 and 2015.