Donaldson, Kiernan excel at nationals

Indiana’s cloudy midwestern skies on the morning of Nov. 22 did not deter a pair of Yale runners, who both won All-American awards at this year’s NCAA Division I Women’s Cross Country Championships.

Lindsay Donaldson ’08 and Cara Kiernan ’07 represented Yale in the championship race at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind. Donaldson came in sixth overall in the 6,000-meter race with a time of 20:40. Donaldson was also the best of any freshmen running in the race and managed to match the time of the second-best finish to date by any Ivy League woman.

Kiernan is a veteran of the NCAA championships. This year, she placed 33rd overall in the 6,000-meter with a time of 21:09.4. Her new mark is a significant improvement from last year’s 61st place, where she was also the fourth fastest freshman.

“It was a definite change from last year’s race in Iowa, where I was running without any teammates and where the ground was hard and there was a negative two degrees wind chill,” Kiernan said. “Running with a teammate this year was great. We could run together and make strategies and plans, and also have fun.”

Although this was Donaldson’s first trip to the championships, she did not let that phase her.

“The race was really exciting, considering I was not expecting to make it to NCAAs,” Donaldson said. “I’m still in shock about it and I am so surprised by the outcome. I actually haven’t thought that much about it and I’m trying to focus on the upcoming indoor track season.”

According to Kiernan, strategies that she and Donaldson devised before the race included starting conservatively and then going full blast as the finish line became closer. The pair also planned to find each other in the beginning of the race.

“We have very similar running styles and that helped out a lot during the race, along with the words of encouragement we gave each other whenever we saw one of us fading,” Donaldson said. “It was just incredible to feel her support through the training, both as a mentor and as a friend.”

With a season that ended better than the last, the championship was a nice way for the team as a whole to cross the finish line for the year at third place in the Ivy League, up one spot from last year’s fourth place.

“We were disappointed that we did not get a team bid to go to Indiana, especially since I think we would have had a really good overall team performance with Lindsay and Cara,” team captain Ann Martin ’05 said. “But in the end, it definitely worked out.”

The team captain also said the two championship runners feed off each other to run successfully.

“It works great between them,” Martin said. “Cara needed somebody to run with and Lindsey is the perfect person for her. Just to watch both of them working together is motivating for the entire team.”

The race was won by Kim Smith of Providence College, who crossed the finish line just 30.5 seconds ahead of Donaldson with a winning time of 20:08.5.

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