CLAREMONT, Calif. - Whitman College's Emilie Gilbert finished 16th at the NCAA Division III West Region Cross Country Championships on Saturday to qualify individually for the national finals.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) dominated the women's regional race, held on the Pomona-Pitzer campus in Claremont, Calif., while Willamette finished second in the team scoring.
While both of those teams automatically advance to the national championships, Gilbert also qualified as one of the top seven individuals not on one of the top two teams.
Gilbert finished the 6,000-meter course in 22:21.1.
"Emilie went out with the lead group and ran her typically strong race," Whitman coach Scott Shields said. "That lead group separated a bit over the course of the race, but Emilie is super competitive and she gave it everything she had at the end.
"She must have passed three runners in the last 200 yards."
The NCAA DIII national championships take place next Saturday in Winneconne, Wisc.
As a team, Whitman finished in sixth place at Saturday's regional with 172 place points for its top five runners.
Willamette (second with 131 points) and Linfield (fifth with 160 points) were the only Northwest Conference schools that placed ahead of Whitman.
CMS placed six runners in the top 13 and took first in the team scoring with just 39 place points.
"After the top team, there wasn't much that separated the next six teams," Shields said. "It was good to be part of that mix. We ran a very good race as a team."
By placing in the top 35, Gilbert and two of her teammates earned all-region honors.
Mollee Huisinga ended her running career in fine style, placing 31st in 22:52.4. First-year teammate Caitlin Iglehart was close behind, placing 34th in 22:56.1.
"Mollee had a great senior season," Shield said. "She's been having her best-ever race for more than a month now."
Katri Gilbert came close to giving Whitman a fourth runner with all-region honors. She finished 38th in 23:07.0, while Skye Pauly rounded out the Missionary team score, placing 53rd in 23:30.3.
Also competing for Whitman were first-year runner Erin Campbell, who was 65th in 23:45.6, and Kelly Jensen, who was 67th in 23:48.3.
Pomona-Pitzer's Annie Lydens ran away with the individual honors, winning the race in 21:26.1 and beating her nearest competitor by almost seven seconds.
Emilie Gilbert will be making her second trip to the national championships in three years.
Two years ago, she was part of a Whitman squad that placed second at regionals to qualify as a team for nationals.
Gilbert finished 49th at regionals as a first-year runner and then moved up to 29th last year, earning all-region honors for the first time.
She was the only Missionary on Saturday who had previous experience at the regional meet.