Only 47 seconds separated Mary Baldwin’s own Sophia Stone from the first place finish Saturday at the NCAA Women’s Cross Country Championship in Winneconne, Wisconsin. With a pace of 5:49, Stone finished 31st out of 277 runners, earning her All-American honors.
The 17-year-old sophomore from Pacific Palisades, California covered the 6K (3.75 miles) course in 21:39.62.
Stone said teammate Pauline Langston called before the race for a motivational prayer and coaches Sharon Spalding and Holly Breen supported her from the sidelines. Stone’s father even surprised her with a visit to Wisconsin to watch her race.
Despite the bitter cold, she said, the atmosphere of the national championship helped energized the runners.
“The spectators were so animated,” Stone said. “Team [members] who came to support ran around in the freezing wind in bikinis and war paint, waving flags and chanting and singing.”
Stone also talked about the sportsmanship on display at the race.
“After the race, I like to congratulate other runners, and although they are essentially your competition, everyone is in the same boat; everyone is ecstatic about being there, and we’re all just college runners trying our best,” she said. “Once you cross the finish line, you see girls collapsing and others going out of their way to help them stand or offer water. Those kinds of things — especially when you have no energy left to give — really make the sport worthwhile.”
Editor’s note: This version of the article includes the correct amount of time that lapsed between the first-place finisher and Stone.