The women’s cross country team has added yet another top-10 finish to its season, placing third this past weekend at the NCAA Regionals in Van Cortlandt Park in New York, N.Y. This finish makes for the seventh top-10 finish for the team this season and the fifth time that the squad has placed in the top three.

The team was once again led by first-team All-Ivy runners Lindsay Donaldson ’08 and Cara Kiernan ’07, who have been the first two Bulldogs to cross the finish line in the past three competitions. Their efforts this past weekend paid off, earning them both individual bids to the NCAA Championships Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Ind.

Donaldson was the first Eli to clock in with a time of 20:31.2, good enough to grasp third place overall. She was also the first runner to finish at the squad’s last competition, registering the best Yale woman’s time ever at the Heptagonal Championships. Despite her recent success, however, the freshman emphasizes her focus on the team.

“I wasn’t thinking about my individual performance during the race because the ultimate goal of the meet was to qualify as a team for nationals,” Donaldson said. “It is an honor to have qualified as an individual, but it will mean so much more if the entire team qualifies.”

The top two teams at NCAA Regionals automatically receive team bids to the NCAA Championships. While Providence College took first and Columbia took second to clinch these two team positions, there are four individual slots left open for the first four women finishers who are not on either one of these teams. Donaldson and Kiernan took two of these slots with their strong finish Saturday. The team was still waiting to hear about its fate Sunday.

Kiernan, who finished with a time of 20:41.7 and took fifth place overall, qualified for her second straight individual bid to the NCAA Championships and will be excited to share her experience with Donaldson.

“Lindsay and I had a great time working together, and I have really enjoyed getting to run with her this season,” Kiernan said, “We are able to work together with pacing, passing other girls and running a smart, strong race. I’m so thankful to have such a talented, wonderful running partner; Nationals will be so much more fun with two of us there.”

On top of the strong performances by both Donaldson and Kiernan, all seven Eli runners finished in the top 60 out of a pool of 230 runners. Captain Anne Martin ’05 finished 29th, Katie McKinstry ’07 finished 31st and Betsy Boucher ’08 finished 32nd with times of 21:58.0, 21:59.6, and 22.01.9, respectively.

They were followed closely by Ashley Campbell ’07, who finished with a time of 22:29.9, and Susan Chan ’05, who had a time of 22:36.1. The two runners capped off the Bulldog team with finishes of 49th and 56th place, respectively.

It was these combined performances that allowed Yale to finish in third place out of 35 teams and keep its chances of a bid to Nationals still possible. Regardless of whether Yale receives a bid or not, though, the team seems to have taken this past season as a positive one.

“Hopefully, we will all have another chance to race this year,” Donaldson said, “but based on everyone’s performances this season, the future of the team looks promising.”