Foster Punches National Ticket With Leafs’ Best Time Since 2008
Sophomore spurs Maple Leafs to sixth-place team finish
CARMEL, Ind. — Chelsea Foster ran the fastest time by a Goshen College women’s cross country runner in nine years on Saturday, qualifying for the NAIA championship and earning all-conference honors with a fifth-place finish in the Crossroads League championship at Northview Church.
Foster finished the 3.11-mile (five-kilometer) loop in 19 minutes, 4.4 seconds, lowering her career best by three-fifths of a second and setting a new personal record for the third time this year. Laura Harnish was the last Goshen runner to post a better time when she finished in 18:55 in 2008: that year, Harnish took fourth in the conference and qualified for the national meet.
As one of the top four individuals not on the team champion (Goshen finished sixth), Foster earns a trip to the national meet in Vancouver, Washington, on November 18. The Indianapolis native becomes the eighth Goshen woman to qualify for nationals: the previous seven combined for 15 appearances, including nine appearances by four runners spanning seven consecutive years from 2002-08.
Taylor University took the team title with 21 points behind the top three runners and five of the first eight. Sarah Harden’s 18:23.8 was good for individual honors with three runners breaking the 19-minute mark. Spring Arbor’s Victoria Harper rounded out the top five, taking fourth place in 19:00.3 to qualify for nationals as well.
Jill Steinmetz, Nora Rangel and Sierra Ross Richer finished second, third and fourth for the Maple Leafs, all clocking in under 21 minutes.
Ross Richer returned to the lineup with a time of 20:49.1 after missing the past two meets and Goshen set its second-best top-four and top-five cumulative times of the season, trailing only the Louisville Classic from September 30. Not coincidentally, that was the previous meet in which Ross Richer ran.
Two more Goshen runners set personal bests on Saturday as McKenzie Porter’s 22:32.5 and Megan Graber’s 22:54.6 were good for fifth and seventh on the team respectively.
Seven of the eight Maple Leafs to see action in 2017 set a new personal-record time, with the group combining for 16 new PRs including 10 in the last month. Foster and Graber each set three new PRs in the last four races while Porter did them one better, closing out the season with three straight bests.
The NAIA women’s cross country national championship is set for 2:30 p.m. EST on Saturday, November 18 at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Vancouver, Washington. The men’s championship will begin an hour earlier: if Vincent Kibunja qualifies as an individual on the men’s side, it will also mark the first time in nine years (and the third time ever) that GC men and women have qualified for cross country nationals in the same season.
Team — 6. Goshen 181
5. Chelsea Foster 19:04.4 (all-conference; personal record, replacing 19:05.05 at Great Lakes Challenge on Oct. 21)
38. Jill Steinmetz 20:21.6
49. Nora Rangel 20:33.9
57. Sierra Ross Richer 20:49.1
105. McKenzie Porter 22:32.5 (personal record, replacing 22:37.90 at Great Lakes Challenge on Oct. 21)
109. Siana Emery 22:39.7
111. Megan Graber 22:54.6 (personal record, replacing 22:58.2 at Bethel Classic on Oct. 6)
Jenae Stutzman 23:22.2