Before she arrived at the NCAA Division II West Region Championships on Saturday in frosty Bellingham, Wash., Cal State Stanislaus women’s cross country runner Rubye Elhard wasn’t sure if this was going to be her final college race.
Elhard overcame freezing temperatures and an icy 6,000-meter race course to finish in a time of 23 minutes, 11.3 seconds for 10th place at Lake Padden Park, fast enough to be one of two runners not already on a qualifying team to move on to the NCAA National Championships in Louisville, Ky. on Dec. 4. The junior had been thinking about ending her college career to return home to Alaska to be with her husband of five months.
She’ll have to wait one more race.
“Rubye ran an outstanding race,” Warriors coach Diljeet Taylor said. “The weather and course was definitely to her advantage. She followed our race plan and executed it perfectly.”
Elhard will be the first Stanislaus women’s cross country runner to compete at nationals since the Warriors made it as a team in 2003. By finishing in the top 15 of Saturday’s race, she also became the first Warrior to earn all-regional honors since Cherise McNair accomplished the same feat three years ago.
At the same time, Elhard is bummed that she’ll go to nationals without her team and twin sister Denali Foldager, who came in 24th in 23:55.5. The Warriors missed the national cut by two spots and finished eighth overall after entering the regional race ranked seventh.
“I would give up my individual spot for a chance for our team, but I did my part and it paid off,” Elhard said after the race. “I am excited for this opportunity to be one of the two individuals in region to qualify.”
Other Stanislaus results: Chelsea Deerinck (25:04), Marinna Ghabbour (25:21.6), Alyssa Thiele (25:24.3) and Katie Timmermans (25:24.3) all came in between 74th and 90th place, while Lindsay Garcia (24:34.2) rounded out the top seven for the Warriors, who collectively jumped up four spots from their 12th-place finish in 2009.
“We are disappointed in the team’s finish but they battled and it just wasn’t our day,” Taylor said. “It’s still a great improvement from last year’s finish. We are young and are continuing to get better.”
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