Posted-Nov. 15, 2013 9:57 pm
MADISON, Wis. -- Badgers sophomore Emma-Lisa Murphy has led the Wisconsin women's cross country team for most of the season.
That trend continued Friday at the 2013 NCAA Great Lakes Regional at the Zimmer Championship Course, but it was the runners behind Murphy that propelled the team to a fifth-place finish and a likely spot in the 2013 NCAA Championship, Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind.
"It was the first time that we had five people kind of run their best on the same day, and that's been a bit of a struggle for us," UW head coach Jim Stintzi said. "It was the best meet of the season for us."
The Badgers scored 136 team points, just two behind Notre Dame's fourth-place finish. Regional champion Michigan (48) and runner-up Butler (67) earned automatic bids to the NCAA meet, while Michigan State (73) finished third.
Stintzi felt confident in receiving an at-large bid because of the quality of the region, which is home to three of the top 14 teams in the latest USTFCCCA rankings. The at-large team qualifying bids will be announced Saturday at 3 p.m. (CT). If UW qualifies, it will be the Badgers' first NCAA championship appearance since 2011.
Murphy finished in a time of 20 minutes, 38 seconds, which was good for a 13th-place finish overall. Freshman Sarah Disanza, who has finished in the top two for UW in every race she has competed in this season, turned in a 21st-place finish with a time of 20:53. The remaining UW scorers never strayed too far behind the Badgers' leaders and all placed in the top 40.
"The other three behind them, Molly Hanson, Lavinia Jurkiewicz and then Kelly Whitley all kind of gutted it out," Stintzi said. "They were kind of hurting at the end so all five of those girls, I thought, did well."
Hanson, a sophomore, placed 28th overall with a time of 21:06 while Jurkiewicz clocked in at 21:13, good for a 34th-place finish. Whitley rounded out UW's scorers with a 40th-place finish while clocking in at 21:22.
"It's really awesome to have girls close together and working as a team as a unit," Murphy said. "(The runners behind me) did awesome. Everyone really worked together and put in the work and we're really excited with how we did."
Senior Erin Cawley (46th, 21:33) and junior Gabi Anzalone (60th, 21:46) rounded out the Wisconsin runners.
Murphy said that the mindset the team carried with them today will undoubtedly be replicated if they secure an at-large bid and travel to Terre Haute next week. The Badgers posted a perfect score of 15 points at the Sycamore Invitational on Sept. 14 at the same course the NCAA championship will be held on.
"We really worked together super hard and our workouts have been really challenging," Murphy said. "But we've really stuck together and accomplished them, which gives us a lot of confidence going into nationals. And hopefully if we make it, we do have goals as a team and it's just a matter of working together and getting it done."