by PETE WATKINS, WSU director of athletic communications
Lindsay Cunningham ran to a runner-up finish in the 2022 NCAA Division II Women's Cross Country Championships on Friday, December 2, turning in a time of 20:27.2 on a cold and wet course in Chambers Bay, Wash. As a team, Winona State (WSU) finished 11th overall among 34 teams, compiling 355 points and capping a fantastic season for the program and Head Coach John Hibshman.
Cunningham was the second participant to cross the finish line in the championship race, held as a part of the NCAA Division II Fall Championships Festival, hosted by Seattle Pacific University. Stephanie Cotter, of Adams State, won the event with a time of 19:45.2. Cunningham kept third-place finisher Klaudia O'Malley, of Grand Valley State, at bay down the home stretch as O'Malley finished third with a time of 20:43.0.
As a team, Winona State was just four points off a top 10 finish, as Colorado Christian nudged WSU with a team score of 352 to finish in 10th place. Adams State won the team event with a score of 75, while Grand Valley State took second (126), and Colorado School of Mines (164) was third. The 11th place finish is the second-highest ever team placement for Winona State in the NCAA Division II era.
In addition to Cunningham's runner-up finish, four other Warriors recorded times counting towards the team final score. Kaylee Beyer finished in 36th place overall, running a time of 21:19.1, while McKenna Taylor was 52nd with a time of 21:31.8 for Winona State. Sophia Taarud finished among the top 100 runners in NCAA Division II cross county, finishing 97th with a time of 22:01.9. Rhya Brandemuehl rounded out the Warriors’ top five scorers, running a time of 23:48.0.
Also competing for Winona State in the championship event were Andrea Fromelt and Mara Talabac, completing the course with times of 24:01.2 and 24:04.5, respectively.
Individually, Cunningham completes her sophomore campaign for Winona State with her second-consecutive appearance in the 2022 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships, having placed seventh last year in the 2021 finals. At the 2022 NCAA Division II Central Region Championships held in Joplin, Mo., on November 19, Cunningham was joined by Beyer and Taylor in the top 12 at the Central Region competition, making WSU the only team to have three finishers in the top 12.
On Friday, Winona State student-athletes took part in the championship event, lining up among over 260 racers on the 6K course. WSU last made an appearance as a team in the NCAA Division II Championships in 2014, when the team finished 17th. The best-ever team finish for the Warriors came in 2012, when the squad finished in ninth place overall.
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