MASON, OH - The Johns Hopkins women's cross country team won its third straight NCAA Championship on Saturday after placing four runners in the top 30 and accumulating 87 points. The Blue Jays are the first team to win three straight titles since SUNY Cortland won four straight from 1992 to 1995. Hopkins was the only team to place five runners in the top 50 as the Blue Jays' top five all finished 37th or higher.
MIT placed second with 112 points, followed by St. Lawrence (138), Washington University (180) and SUNY Geneseo (212) to round out the top five.
Junior Sophia Meehan led the Blue Jays with a sixth-place finish after finishing in 85th as a freshman. Meehan finished in 21:47.2 to lead a pack of four Blue Jays that finished in the top 29. Senior Ashley Murphy improved 31 spots on her 2013 run as she finished in 15th place with a time of 22:08.01. Sophomore Tess Meehan, who placed 137th in 2013, grabbed 24th place as she crossed in 22:20.5. Senior Francis Loeb rounded out the Blue Jay All-Americans with a 29th place finish and a time of 22:21.5.
Freshman Bridget Gottlieb crossed in 37th place as she ran a time of 22:28.2. Junior Caroline Powers placed 98th in 23:12.3 and classmate Hannah Oneda, who returned last week after missing the majority of the season with an injury, placed 157th in 23:37.8.
"I am so proud of the way our girls stayed strong throughout the course of the race," coach Bobby Van Allen said. "Before the race started, we talked about how important it was to stay focused throughout and that is exactly what they did. We talked about really being smart in terms of picking our spots to pick people off and move up in the race. They ran hard and smart, and proved they were worthy of the national championship."
In particular, Van Allen raved about Gottlieb. Just a freshman, Gottlieb showed alot of moxie and poise, battling back from a tough start to finish just outside the top-35.
"I could not be prouder of Bridget today. She got off to a tough start, and she easily could've mentally checked out of the race, but she didn't," coach Bobby Van Allen explained. "She hung in there and was extremely smart about when to make her moves to move ahead. The poise and discipline she showed today was exceptional."
The team's third national title came on an extremely spectator friendly course, with many loops and flat land, easy for the masses to move to and from different spots along the way.
"I thought the crowd today as great, as it is every year. There was a lot of energy in the crowd and it made for a great overall atmosphere." Van Allen said.
For the elder Meehan, this is the sixth race of the season which she was the Blue Jays top finisher. Additionally, for herself, and Oneda, this is the third national title in three seasons.
"When I got to Hopkins this was not a thought at all, winning three straight national championships. I lived with Hannah our freshman year and we thought we could be good, and then when we won, we thought we could get another because the roster was pretty young and everybody was motivated," Meehan explained.
"Winning the third is a big accomplishment. We expected to win, but we still needed to prove it," Meehan continued. "We knew this year would be the toughest year to win, so we knew we'd have to really perform well. But today everybody competed hard and ran well and we were able to win."
With a sixth place finish in the race, one would think Meehan would be jumping for joy, but the Havertown, PA native wasn't satisfied. "I had higher goals than sixth, and I thought I could've done better. But I'm really happy that we won and that everyone ran the way they did."
For Hopkins, the four all-americans are the most in one year for the Blue Jays, after having three each of the past two seasons. The Meehan sisters as well as Murphy earned All-American honors for the first time in their respective careers, while Loeb joins Holly Clarke and Oneda as repeaters.