Jacqui White, Assistant Sports Editor
After coming in 20th place at the NCAA DIII Atlantic Regional Championships, Kaitlyn Stinson was a contender to compete NCAA DIII National Championships on Nov. 17. Stinson didn’t know if she would be selected to run at nationals until the Monday after regionals.
The NCAA Division III Cross Country national committee selected Stinson as an at-large competitor to be one of seven athletes picked to represent the Atlantic Region. Stinson is just the second runner in Utica College program history to qualify for the NCAA Division III Women’s Cross Country Championship.
Stinson explained that after learning she had been selected for nationals, she didn’t train too differently as she had the whole season.
“I kept it the same as we had the whole season,” she said. “I did two work out every week and then on the weekend, we did long run to try and keep it consistent.”
One difference between running in nationals and regionals was that she felt there was more pressure running regionals.
“I was just happy that I had a shot to run in regionals,” Stinson said.
Other accomplishments for Stinson include her being on the first team all-conference honoree for three consecutive years.
Coach Eric Parker explained that the race, which took place in Winneconne, Wisconsin, fell on a cold day and the course was wet.
“Kaitlyn has always been a top runner. She never ran with a lot of traffic, which is what happened when she went to nationals. She was running a big pack of runners the whole race and actually fell at the four-kilometer mark in the race,” Parker said. “I was very pleased with how Kaitlyn ran, considering the circumstances of her being shocked to be running in a pack for the first time.”
Parker explained that between regionals and nationals, Stinson had worked to fine-tune her running with assistant coach Sam Catterson. Stinson and Catterson worked to work on her pacing to get a faster six-kilometer race time and to get a better rhythm down as she ran.
“She hasn’t been running that long, only since her sophomore year of college. She’s planning on coming back next year so it’s exciting to see what else she’ll be able to accomplish,” Parker said.
Stinson said even though she was pleased with her 180th placing for the race, she admitted that she wasn’t really prepared for the race to have 279 runners.
Stinson ran the six-kilometer race in 23 minutes and eight seconds, two minutes and 13 minutes behind national champion Paige Crawler. Her three-kilometer split came at 11 minutes and 29 seconds, her five kilometers at 19 minutes and 21 seconds.
The first cross country runner from Utica College to compete at Nationals was assistant cross country coach Ashton Villeneuve. Villeneuve ran in 2016 and came in 181st overall.
“I plan on returning to run next year,” Stinson said. “I have a year of eligibility after this and I’ll be here anyway.”