Cal State Stanislaus junior cross country runner Rubye Elhard recorded a better time than she did at the NCAA West Regionals with a run of just under 23 minutes to place 69th at the Division II Championships on Saturday at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park in Louisville, Ky.
Elhard — the lone Stanislaus runner — finished in 22 minutes, 57.3 seconds out of the 187 national competitors.
“Rubye ran really tough. She pushed herself the entire race,” Warriors coach Diljeet Taylor said. “We were going for top 40 but we knew it was a tough goal. A 69th place finish for a first-time race at nationals is solid. This was a great experience for her.”
Despite falling short of achieving All-American status with a top 40 finish, Elhard was the first none-Chico State runner from the CCAA to finish. She was also the 11th runner from the West Region to cross the line.
Grand Valley State won the team championship, while Neely Spence of Shippensburg captured the individual title in 20:41.2.
Three runners from Alaska Anchorage, four from Chico State, two from Western Washington and one from Northwest Nazarene finished ahead of Elhard.
“She ran a smart race and had a great season,” Taylor added. “This will give her something to be hungry for next year.”
Taylor expects Elhard to return for her senior season alongside her twin sister Denali Foldager, both with a desire to compete together at the national level. Elhard had thought of not competing during her junior season before ultimately deciding on running.
The Foldagers have become the faces of Warriors cross country since arriving on campus after highly successful high school careers in both cross country and track and field in Alaska.
Elhard was the first Cal State Stanislaus Warrior, man or woman, to compete at the cross country championships since the whole women's team qualified in 2003.