By Elizabeth Van Pilsum, Staff Writer
Saint Vincent College marked a momentous occasion for the cross country team on Nov. 19, when the second female runner from the school made it to the NCAA Division III Championship. The championship is an annual cross country meet held to determine the team and individual champions of intercollegiate cross country teams, and this year was held in Lansing, Michigan. Kristen Prince, freshman engineering major, is the first female SVC runner to make it to that championship since Ivette Mejia in 2011 and the third SVC student to compete in the championship overall.
Prince has been running cross country since her sophomore year of high school, and her favorite part about the sport is the team aspect. “Not everyone is at the same speed but we're all enduring the same challenges and pushing each other to meet our individual goals,” Prince said.
Joining the cross country team at SVC has only made her cross country journey more enjoyable. “Running here at SVC has never felt more like home,” Prince said. “The team is very close, and the coaches are so supportive and knowledgeable in the sport, providing lots of opportunity for growth on and off the course.”
Prince has experienced a successful season her first semester at SVC. She has been named the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Newcomer of the Year and won third place at the PAC Championship hosted by Saint Vincent. On Nov. 12, she qualified for the NCAA DIII Championship by placing 11th out of 209 runners in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship.
At the NCAA DIII Championship, Prince competed in the Women’s 6K race. She made the six-hour drive up to Lansing on Thursday, giving her time to prepare before her race on Saturday.
“The day before the race I was quite nervous, but my coach and I did a shakeout run on the course that day and I was feeling much better after that,” Prince said.
At the race, Prince competed against the best DIII runners in the country in below-freezing weather. Johns Hopkins won the team championship, and Kassie Parker of Loras College won the individual with a time of 21:06. It was a heated race, and Prince ended with a time of 23:57, in 175th place out of 292 runners.
“The day of the race I was very excited to run,” Prince said. “Throughout the race I just remembered how grateful I was for the opportunity to be there and enjoyed it. Following the race I left with an open mind, taking with me things I have learned from it and hungry to go back.”
The thing that stood out to Prince the most about the Championship was the vibrant atmosphere. “The race exemplified what cross country is all about: grit, comradery, and fun!” Prince said.
Prince faces a bright future with the SVC Cross Country team, and she is excited for the rest of her running career. “I'm looking forward to continuing to push myself and applying everything I learned at Nationals to next season in addition to cheering on and helping my teammates reach their goals,” Prince said.