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BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The No. 19 Penn State Penn State women's cross country team automatically qualified through to the NCAA Championships in dominating fashion as the Nittany Lions captured the Mid-Atlantic Regional title for a third-straight year Friday morning at the Goodman Campus Cross Country Course on the campus of Lehigh University.
"It was an outstanding day for Penn State cross country," said head coach John Gondak.
"We leave here with our third-straight Mid-Atlantic Championship for the women and a top-five finish for the men. We had eight All-Region athletes between both programs, so I’m very pleased with their efforts. The women scoring five in the top-10 is an outstanding performance. They really made a statement today and are eager to get to Louisville and run at the national championships. On the men's side, last year we were fifth, but we were 125-points away from qualifying for the national championships, this year we were fifth but we were only 20-points out of second-place, so we keep improving and it's a goal of mine to get this men's cross country team back to nationals and we're getting closer every year," said Gondak.
The women's team captured the team title by 29-points over runner-up Villanova (60) to grab one of the two auto-qualifier spots to the NCAA Championships next week in Louisville, Ky. The men’s team finished the season with a strong showing finishing fifth with a team score of 125 that was just 22-points short of qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
Eight student-athletes earned All-Region honors for their efforts on the course Friday morning. Five Nittany Lion women (Hunsberger, Willingmyre, Munks, Rivers, and Lindsley) and three Nittany Lion men (T. McGowan, Abert and J. McGowan) earned the accolades.
For the women's team, as has been the case all season long, Penn State was led by Jillian Hunsberger with her second-place finish in 20:05.4.
Following Hunsberger, it was a tight pack as the Nittany Lions put all five scorers in the top-10 of the entire meet. Alison Willingmyre (20:15.1), Kathryn Munks (20:15.8), Danae Rivers (20:17.6), and Greta Lindsley (20:21.6) crossed the tape in fifth, sixth, eighth, and 10th-place, respectively.
The Penn State men's team saw Timothy McGowan lead the way, posting a time of 30:40.1 finishing sixth overall at the meet - leaving a chance that McGowan could be selected for an at-large bid to run individually at the NCAA Championships next week in Louisville, Ky.
As mentioned, two other Nittany Lions earned All-Region honors including Colin Abert (30:43.5) and John McGowan (30:52.6) finishing ninth and 20th, respectively.
Andrew Sell (31:21.8) and Bobby Hill (31:33.8) rounded out scoring for Penn State while Ben Bumgarner (32:00.8) and Billy McDevitt (32:16.7) competed for the Blue & White finishing 78th and 97th, respectively.
With the top-five finishes by both the men's and women's teams, Penn State earned points towards the Learfield Directors' Cup Standings.
The Nittany Lions travel to Louisville, Ky. on Nov. 18th for the NCAA Championships hosted by the University of Louisville at E.P.'Tom' Sawyer State Park.
For more on Nittany Lion cross country, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.