Cekada qualifies for nationals; Quakers 13th at Great Lakes Regional
Junior to make second appearance at national meet
November 12, 2011
Annie Cekada finished 14th at the Great Lakes Regional and earned a bid to the NCAA Championship.
OBERLIN — Junior Annie Cekada’s national-qualifying performance led Wilmington College to a 13th-place team finish at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship, hosted by Oberlin College Saturday morning.
The Quakers finished with 402 team points. Pre-race favorite Calvin won the 36-team event with 69 points. Ohio Northern was runner-up.
Cekada (Mineral Point, Pa./Central Cambria) covered the 6k course in school-record 22:14 to finish 14th overall. The junior earned her third All-Region honor and learned Sunday that she was the sixth of seven runners from the Great Lakes Region to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Championship, which will be hosted by Wisconsin-Oshkosh Nov. 19. The trip to nationals is the second for Cekada, who qualified for the national meet in 2009 and missed qualifying for last year’s NCAA Championship by a single position.
“I am really happy for Annie. She came so close last year, so this will hopefully make up for that disappointment,” Wilmington head coach Ron Combs said. "It's been a nerve-wracking year for her and me. She had to deal with a lot of difficult things this season, but she is such a resilient kid. She is so strong, and I think that's why running 6k benefits her. She likes the longer events."
The Quakers ran Saturday's event without freshman Jenna Parlette (Miamisburg), who has been ill since finishing 10th overall at the Ohio Athletic Conference Championship Oct. 29. Wilmington may have been running short on numbers, but not in effort.
“We knew not having Jenna would hurt us in the team standings, and it did, but our women really stepped up and did a great job today,” Combs said. “We had some huge PR’s from people like Brittany Gibbons and Colleen Romeo and Niki Montgomery. It was a great team effort.”
Gibbons (Pleasant Plain/Blanchester) finished 52nd overall in 22:58.
Romeo (Pleasant Plain/Goshen) was 104th, finishing in 23:59.
Montgomery (Cambridge/Buckeye Trail) finished 114th in 24:11.
Karlee Michel (Alexandria/Johnstown-Monroe) was 123rd in 24:19.
“This is exciting. I tried to convince them that we could come here and do well without Jenna,” Combs said. “We have shown everybody all year long how good a team we are, and it would have been a shame to go to regional and not run a good race. They really brought it today. I am so proud of the effort they gave. I hope this pumps them up for next year to be a national qualifying team. We’ve got most of our team back next season. I think they know that. We have a lot of work to do between now and then, but we have the talent to get the job done.”