Stone Heads to NCAA Championship after Capturing Regional Title
11/16/11 Update: The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association has named Sophia Stone the South/Southeast Region Runner of the Year.
As it turns out, the terrain in Texas couldn’t slow down Mary Baldwin’s star Sophia Stone, as she took first place in the NCAA South/Southeast Regionals Women’s Cross Country Championship in Seguin this weekend.
With the win, Stone has qualified to compete in the NCAA National Championship in Wisconsin on November 19. The 17-year-old sophomore from Pacific Palisades, California, has won all but one race this season, was named USA South Cross Country Runner of the Year, and set a new course record when she won the conference championship last month.
"There was great weather; it was beautiful. It was a flat course, perfect conditions. Everyone was pumped," said Stone, who ran at a 5:57 pace.
Stone said having more competition helped push her to victory. Staying with the pack for most of the race, Stone conserved her energy for the end, where she outpaced the other frontrunners. Stone finished five seconds ahead of Tess Gallegos, a senior from Emory University.
"I tried to think about making my coach proud and making my team proud," Stone said.
Joining Head Coach and Athletic Director Sharon Spalding and Assistant Coach Holly Breen at Regionals were freshmen Amanda Fadden, Kimberly Denny, and Carolyn Denny as well as junior Amanda Harrison and sophomore Pauline Langston.
Looking ahead to this Saturday's race, Stone said she feels physically ready and will be concentrating on the mental preparation needed to take on the country's best. The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh will host the top 280 male and female runners at the Division III championship at Lake Breeze Golf Course in Winneconne. The women's race begins at noon.
Editor’s note: the original version of this article provided an incorrect number of athletes competing at the championship on November 19.