There was only one way for the St. Catherine University cross country team to close out the 2016 season, and that was by turning in the best team finish at the NCAA Central Regional Championship in 18 years. The Wildcats raced to an impressive 14th-place finish Saturday afternoon in Northfield, Minnesota, their best regional finish since 1998. Key to St. Kate’s finish was senior Rachel Hall (Mendota Heights, Minn.), who earned All-Region honors at the Championship with a top-35 finish. For her performance, Hall has been named Wildcat Athlete of the Week.
Hall was the first Wildcat to earn All-Region honors since Ailee Larson achieved the feat in 2013 thanks to a fantastic performance on Carleton’s home course. She was the first member of the team to cross the finish line in 19th place with a time of 23:05.4, which was 40 seconds faster than her All-Conference time at the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Cross Country Championships two weeks prior. That time is also the fourth fastest in program history and the third top-25 time Hall has recorded since returning from injury in October.
Hall was not the only Wildcat to earn All-Region honors on Saturday. First year Leighlin Ahlstrom (White Bear Lake, Minn. / White Bear Lake) also earned the honor thanks to a 32nd place finish at the Central Regional Race. Ahlstrom and Hall were the first duo from St. Kate’s to earn All-Region honors since the 1990s, according to available records.
Combining the scores of the top-5 runners, St. Kate's finished with an overall team score of 353 in 14th place. That finish is the best for the program since the team's 17th place finish in 2013 and second only to the team’s 12th place finish in 1998.