LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Sophia Gorman raced to 9th place at the Division III Cross Country National Championships in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday. The Colby junior earned her second career All-American finish in cross country and improved on her 11th place finish from last year's championships.
Overcast skies and intermittent rain kept Spaulding University's course in the Tom Sawyer State Park cool as the nation's top 280 Division III runners prepared to race. Gorman was no stranger to adverse conditions. Last year she battled through rain and snow to win the NESCAC Championships, and after retaining her title this season, she raced her way to 3rd place in icy, muddy conditions at this year's New England Championships.
The environment was electric despite the cold temperatures as the athletes toed the line; their pace was equally relentless once the race was underway. Gorman pressed hard from the start, pushing into 14th by the first kilometer. As race tactics played out and the field opened up, Gorman surged, moving from 13th to 8th between the third and fourth kilometer. In addition to smart pacing, she added that the conditions and terrain, which recalled the Mules hilly home course of Quarry Road in Waterville, may have provided an edge, saying "The course was much muddier than expected, but I think that actually helped us. Everyone took advantage of the slight set of hills in the second half and that paid off."
Gorman held strong as the racers streaked to the finish, completing the 6000 m course in 21:29.1 to earn 9th place, 1.5 seconds ahead of New England Regional Champion Izzi Gengaro of MIT. Gorman also secured her second-career All-American recognition, which is award to the race's top 40 runners.
Gorman's result caps her best collegiate season yet. Although margins of error and improvement are fractional at the top of the national field, Gorman continues to rise, matching or improving on her career finishes at this year's conference, regional, and national championships. As coach Jared Beers has said, "Sophia's competitive mindset is what sets her apart…" and she has continued to shine when the lights are brightest.
Gorman returns next season for her senior year. She will look to keep up her positive momentum and help push the Mules to new heights.