For the first time since 2003, the Cal State Stanislaus women's cross country team is heading to the NCAA Championships meet collectively. The Warriors exceeded expectations and their regional ranking as they finished fourth at the NCAA West Regional Championships.
Courtney Anderson was the team leader as she garnered All-Region honors with her 14th place finish in 22 minutes and 11.52 seconds. But it was again a team effort as five women finished under 23:09 to score 154 points in the team standings, seven points ahead of Seattle Pacific.
Cal State Stanislaus, which entered the meet ranked No. 5 in the West, finished behind Chico State (51), Alaska Anchorage (56) and Humboldt State (120). Only the top-five placing teams qualify for the NCAA national championship meet on Nov. 17 in Joplin, Mo.
"The women's team ran with their heart out today. It was such a joy to witness all their hard work and dedication pay off," head coach Diljeet Taylor said. "I am so proud of them for all the sacrifices they have made to achieve this dream."
Alaska Anchorage's Susan Tanui was the regional champion in 21:18.50.
Rubye Elhard is probably glad that she returned to Cal State Stanislaus after spending the 2011-12 season at home in Seward, Alaska. Elhard, who finished 10th in the region and advanced to Nationals as an individual in 2010, clocked 22:37.00 on Saturday to finish 23rd to also pick up an All-Region medal.
After the 2010 season, Elhard decided to end her collegiate career to return home to be with her husband and family. She came out of "retirement" this past summer and now she will be able to use her experience to help lead her teammates at the national championship meet.
Anderson is no stranger to the national stage herself. She competed at the Outdoor Track & Field Championships last May in Pueblo, Colo.
The supporting cast for this group with stellar seasons include Dallas Campbell (22:59.38), Rachel Naranjo(23:07.64) and Alyssa Thiele (23:08.88). All three contributed to the team's scoring at the Kahuku Golf Course on north side of O'ahu. Marina Ghabbour (23:18.71) and Lizzie Grolle (24:14.36) also competed with solid times.
The last time a Cal State Stanislaus cross country team qualified for the NCAAs as a group was in 2003. Anderson became the third Warrior to earn All-Region honors since 2007 (Cherise McNair in 2007; Elhard in 2010). The top 15 finishers at the West Regional meet earns the All-Region award.