Nov. 9, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - East Carolina's cross country program had a historic afternoon as the women's team finished ninth at the NCAA Southeast Regional in the 6K race that was competed at McAlphine Park in Charlotte, N.C. on Friday. Junior Bjork Olsen led the charge for the Pirates and finished 18 out of 255 competitors to secure an all-region selection.
ECU's ninth-place team finish was the highest ranking at an NCAA Regional event in school history and topped the previous highest ranking of 11th by last year's team. The Pirates secured four of the top-60 runners at the women's meet and had five in the top-100. ECU's women average time at the competition was 21:45.97.
"The women's team ran flat out great this weekend," head coach Dan Lee proudly said. "They continue to live up to my high expectations. This is a group that has bought into the program and truly believes in themselves. They balance being humble with an understanding of how special they all are."
Olsen ran a 21:04.01 at the meet. The time was a season and collegiate best for the Torshavn, Faroe Island native and ranks as tied for the second-best time recorded at the school in a 6K event along with Brittany Copeland's time from last season. Olsen joins Copeland as the only All-Southeast Regional selections in school history. Copeland was all-region as both a freshman (17th) and senior (22nd) in finishing in the top-25 at the meet both years. Olsen's 18th place ranking this year is the second-highest finish by an ECU runner at the meet and has only been topped by Copeland's 17th place finish in 2008. Olsen's finish was 121 places higher than she finished last year at the same meet.
Redshirt sophomore Stefanie Fresenius finished 50th at the meet for ECU in her time of 21:49.27. Her time bettered her previous effort of 22:27.6 that was accomplished earlier this season at the NCAA Pre-National in Louisville, Ky. Her finish was 66 places higher than she earned at last year's Southeast Regional meet.
Finishing just below Fresenius in 52nd place was junior Chelsea Hollingsworth. Hollingsworth's time of 21:51.19 bested her previous mark of 22:07.9 and was 66 places higher than she finished at during the 2011 Southeast Regional.
Also finishing in the top-60 at the meet for ECU was redshirt sophomore Olivia Slate. Slate took home 56th place in a season and career-best time of 21:53.91 in her first-ever Southeast Regional meet.
Redshirt junior Stacey Gonzalez also finished in the top-100 for the Pirates in 79th place. Gonzalez's time of 22:11.51 was nearly a minute faster than her previous low 6K time of 23:04.58 that she set on the same course earlier in the campaign. The Raleigh, N.C. native, who did not compete at last year's regional championship, bested her previous highest finish of 155th from the 2010 regional championship by 76 places.
Freshman Shewit Weldense also ran at the meet and ran a 23:42.04 to place 186th. Redshirt sophomore Michelle Bailey finished just out of the top-200 for ECU in 204th place with her time of 24:04.01. The time did better her previous low collegiate mark of 24:09.80 set earlier in the season on the same course.
"The top-five ladies all set personal-best marks and looked great," Lee continued. "They had a strong, yet patient start and also finished the race in good form. The whole team returns next year and we will add the Kott twins, who redshirted this year, back to the group. The future of the program looks very bright. The team is already excited about the upcoming track season and seeing how far they can take the momentum that they built throughout cross country season."
The ECU men were represented by redshirt junior Cory Hampshire at the meet. Hampshire ran a 32:56.90 to top his previous low 10K meet time of 33:28.46 set at the 2009 Southeast Regional Championships.