CUMBERLAND, Maine - The MIT women's cross country team came into Saturday's NCAA Division III New England Regional Championship hosted by Southern Maine ranked no. four in the nation and tops in the region. Thanks to an impressive performance, led by individual champion, Jacqui Wentz, and third-place finisher, Maria Monks, the Engineers verified those rankings and took home a share of the Team Championship for the first time in program history. MIT and defending National Champion, Middlebury, finished with the same number of team points, 63, but not without a bit of controversy first. The four runners in seventh through tenth place all crossed the finish within four-tenths of a second. The unofficial results initially had Alina Gatowski listed in the ninth position, leaving Tech one point behind the Panthers. However, after a review of the photo finish, it was determined that Gatowski had, in fact, placed eighth, creating the deadlock at the top.
Wentz was the first to complete the six-kilometer course, breaking the tape in 21:35.7. The senior easily eclipsed Debbie Won's Institute best fifth-place finish at this Championship, set in 1998. Two weeks after earning New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Runner of the Year honors, Monks followed that up with a third-place effort (21:44.9). Gatowski turned in a time of 22:05.4, giving MIT three of the top 10 finishers. Katherine Eve (22:32.5) and Tania Morimoto (22:38.2) picked up key points with a 24th and 27th place showing, respectively.
The Engineers automatically qualify for the NCAA Division III Championship, to be held next Saturday, November 21, hosted by Baldwin-Wallace College in Cleveland, Ohio. The women's Championship race begins at 11:00 a.m.