Former Southern Runner Kaitlyn Mooney Swipes Fourth at NCAA Division III Championships

Nov 21, 2018
Courtesy of: Coast Guard Academy Athletics

Last year, Kaitlyn Mooney broke onto the collegiate cross-country scene with flair. On Nov. 17, the Coast Guard Academy sophomore again proved she’s one of the best runners in NCAA Division III.

After leading for much of the 6K race during the NCAA Division III National Championships, held at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Mooney ultimately dropped back from the front position and finished fourth overall for a second straight season, earning All-America honors once again.

Mooney cruised out to the front of the pack early, pushing a nearly six-second lead over Allegheny University’s Emily Forner by the 2,320-meter mark. The Manahawkin resident and Southern Regional graduate continued to blaze her path, surging past the 3K marker holding an 8.5-second gap on Forner.

By the time Mooney reached the 5K mark, the lead pack had become much tighter as Washington University’s Paige Lawler not only closed the gap but got up on Mooney’s heels, trailing by just four-tenths of a second with a 1,000 kilometers to go. Meanwhile, Otterbein University’s Claire Lamb and Centre College’s Annie Rodenfels also moved up within striking distance of the first position, trailing Mooney by 3.3 and 3.9 second, respectively.

Ultimately, Lawler, Lamb and Rodenfels each passed Mooney as they neared the final stretch, with Lawler capturing the national championship with a time of 20:55.0. Lamb crossed the finish line in 20:58.7, followed by Rodenfels in 20:58.9 and Mooney in 21:04.2. Emily Bryson from Brandeis University was fifth in 21:08.3. In last year’s national race, Mooney placed fourth in 20:48.3, while Rodenfels finished 12th, Lawler placed 15th and Lamb was 22nd.

Mooney’s All-America effort was good enough to earn her the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s nod as the New England Region Athlete of the Year, culminating a fantastic 2018 for Mooney.

During the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships in March, she placed fifth overall in the 3,000-meter run with a time of 9:40.81, before winning the New England Division III 5,000-meter championship in May with a time of 17:11.75 and finishing the outdoor track season with a 10th-place finish (17:42.76) in the Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

This fall, Mooney started off with a victory in the Purchase College Invitational on Sept. 8, before taking second and fourth in back-to-back meets later in September. Mooney started hitting her championship stride when she won the Connecticut College Invitational 6K in 21:09.0, then cruised to victory in the 5K race of the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Championship with a time of 18:38.6.

Mooney then outran The College of New Jersey’s Natalie Cooper and Tufts University’s Natalie Bettez – both of whom had outpaced Mooney earlier in the season – with a time of 20:43.8 to win her second straight regional title by some 21 seconds on Nov. 10.

David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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