Over Thanksgiving Break, Yale women’s cross country captain Andrea Masterson ’19 traveled to Madison, Wisconsin to race solo at the NCAA National Championships on Nov. 17. In a field of 255 athletes, she crossed the line in 59th place, beating out over three-fourths of her national competitors.

Held at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course in Madison, the NCAA championships officially closed out the cross country season. Team events ended at the NCAA regional championships on Nov. 9, where the women took home a third-place title while the men raced to 17th place. While the women’s team fell short of an automatic qualifier for nationals, Masterson qualified for the ultimate competition for the third year in a row, having raced with her team in 2016 and by herself last year.

“As a coach, all you can ask of your athletes is to consistently believe in themselves and believe in the process day in and day out,” women’s head coach Amy Gosztyla said. “Andrea has worked consistently hard over her four years at Yale … the whole Yale community is proud of Andrea’s efforts.”

Masterson’s final race follows her 195th place finish in 2016 and 146th place finish in 2017. Her jump to 59th place on this year’s national stage is the summit of her climb to victory in her final year. She led the Elis in every competition the team faced in 2018.

In September, Masterson emerged victorious at the traditional Harvard-Yale-Princeton trigonal meet, beating out Ivy League rivals for a first-place finish. In October, she reached fourth place in the Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh University, and, in that same month, achieved third place at the Pre-Nationals Invitational in Madison. Masterson closed out October with a first-place finish at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships and raced to sixth place at the Northeast Regional Championships on Nov. 9.

Masterson achieved such a high place at Nationals despite uncooperative weather conditions in Madison. Temperatures dipped below freezing, making for a frigid and snowbound course.

“It is inspiring to see her do so well at the national level, and she is a wonderful leader on our team,” Jocelyn Chau ’22 said.

Masterson defeated many athletes from nationally ranked schools, including those from the No. 1 University of New Mexico and the No. 2 University of Oregon. With a time of 20:45.7 for the 6K, she trailed the eventual champion Dani Jones by barely more than a minute, while the times of the athletes surrounding Masterson in 58th and 60th place differed from hers by fractions of a second.

According to Gosztyla, Masterson crossed the line just nine seconds shy of achieving All-American status, an honor bestowed to the top 40 finishers.

“Her goal was top 60, knowing it would take a special day to crack the top 40,” Gosztyla added. “She raced incredibly well.”

The women’s cross country team won 30th place in the 2016 championships.

Valerie Pavilonis | valerie.pavilonis@yale.edu