BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Graduate student standout Elaine Estes led all Hawks with a 45th-place individual finish to lead the Saint Joseph's women's cross country squad to a 22nd-place team showing in a field of 31 at the 2019 NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship, held at Lehigh University's Goodman Campus on Friday morning. With an average 6k time of 22:31, the Hawks totaled 608 points to miss a top-20 finish by just 23 points.
Paced by a mile average of 5:41.2 in her final collegiate 6k, Estes dominated the course with a collegiate-best time of 21:12.6, good for the top-50 finish in a field of 208 of the top runners in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Estes clipped 1.8 seconds off of her previous 6k PR, which came on the same Goodman course at the Paul Short run in early October of this year... the same course she has been running on since high school. Her favorite course.
"Elaine ran a solid race," beamed head coach Melody O'Reilly following the finish. "She got herself out pretty fast and then settled down."
According to O'Reilly, the story of the walk-on-turned-big-stage runner couldn't have ended on much of a higher note.
"Last year, things really started to click for her," added O'Reilly. "She has just progressed in this perfectly-even fashion throughout the season, and to end with a PR is really all you can ask for at this level."
"I'm definitely pleased with the PR," said Estes. "I came up a little bit short of what I wanted in terms of time and place, but I'm still looking at it with the fact that I PRed to cap a season like this one. It's pretty cool. This was a different regional race than I ever ran before; I just ran and kept that up the whole 6k instead of starting back and moving forward. So I came up a little short of my goals, but I'm not upset by any means."
Junior Abigail Silva also ran a strong race with a collegiate-best time of 22:26.1, good for 116th as SJU's #2 finisher, while seniors Emily Schaeffer (144th, 22:50.3), Emily Bracken (149th, 22:58.8), and Samantha Mayers (154th, 23:03.3) rounded out the scoring.
"I'm proud of the girls for coming back and racing tough," added Estes in reference to SJU's tough result at the 2019 Atlantic 10 Championship two weekends back. "We had a great two weeks between A-10s and now, so we can't be upset."
Of note, for the second championship race in a row, the Hawks were without their consistent #2 runner, Morgan Camerlo, due to injury.
Saint Joseph's will close the season at the 2019 ECAC Championship next Saturday, November 23 at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y.