William and Mary freshman Emily Stites (Wyoming, Ohio) made school history on Saturday, winning the national title at the USAT&F Cross Country Championships in St. Louis. Stites, who was competing in the junior women's 6K (athletes between the ages of 16-20), ran 20:27.3 to finish over 20 seconds clear of the field and win her first national championship. She is the first freshman for either men or women, and the third woman overall in the history of W&M cross country and track and field to win a national title.
Stites and high-school phenom Erin Finn were well separated from the field of 55 runners by the midway point, and went through 4K with Finn holding a one-second advantage. However, Stites blew past her over the final third of the race, and finished 21.3 seconds ahead of Finn and more than 40 seconds ahead of third-place.
It is the latest in a string of very impressive national and international-performances for the freshman. In November, she was named an All-American after finishing 26th overall at the NCAA Championships, and won the CAA Rookie of the Year award. Early in January, she was the top U.S. finisher at the BUPA Great Edinburgh XC Challenge, finishing seventh against the top junior runners from Great Britain and Europe. Stites has also decimated the Tribe record books, setting freshman records on the indoor track in both the mile and 3,000m.
Tribe freshman Meghan McGovern (North Wales, Pa.) also competed in the race, finishing eighth overall in 21:32.3. McGovern was sixth at last weekend's NACAC Championships in Jamaica on a shorter 4K course.
Both W&M women are now eligible for selection to Team USA for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, which will be held in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on March 24. The USAT&F can send up to six runners in each race, with McGovern's hopes resting on two finishers ahead of her declining the invitation. Former Tribe great and coach Kathy Newberry '00 ran for the U.S. at five world championships, most recently in 2009, and was the team captain that year.
Regardless of selections, both Stites and McGovern will rejoin their teammates next Friday, Feb. 8, as the indoor track and field season continues with the Lafayette/Rider Invitational, at the Armory in New York City.
2013 USAT&F Junior Cross Country Championships
St. Louis, Mo. - 6K
1. Emily Stites (W&M) 20:27.3
2. Erin Finn (Unattached) 20:48.6
3. Carrie Verdon (Colorado) 21:08.8
4. Kathryn Knight (Unattached) 21:09.3
5. Samantha Nadel (Unattached) 21:10.3
6. Sydney Scott (West Virginia) 21:11.3
7. Madeleine Meyers (Unattached) 21:29.5
8. Meghan McGovern (W&M) 21:32.3
9. Taylor Werner (St. Louis TC) 21:33.8
10. Kaitlyn Kramer (N.C. State) 21:37.3
|W&M Track and Field/Cross Country National Champions|
|Emily Stites '16||2012 USAT&F Junior Cross Country|
|Jeri Daniels '82||1982 AIAW Division II Outdoor Shot Put|
|Pearle Young '32||1933 AAU Indoor 50m Dash|
|1933 AAU Indoor Mile Relay|
|Jon Grey '11||2011 USAT&F Club Cross Country|
|Ed Moran '03||2010 USAT&F Road 10K|
|Reggie Clark '75||1974 NCAA Indoor 880y Run|
|Howell Michael '71||1970 AAU Outdoor Mile Run|
|1970 NCAA Indoor Mile Run|
|Juris Luzins '69||1970 AAU Indoor 1,000y Run|