HPU Women’s Cross Country Places 26th At NCAA Southeast Regional

• The finish marked a three-spot improvement from the team’s 29th-place finish in 2013
• Senior Leah Anne Wirfel led HPU with a 128th-place finish (22:35.00)
• Sophomore Cozette Collin finished 132nd in 22:38.10

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The 2014 Big South Champion High Point University women’s cross country team finished 26th out of 38 teams at the NCAA Southeast Regional held Friday afternoon at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park.

William & Mary won the race with 74 points, followed by No. 14 Virginia (82), No. 11 North Carolina (94), Virginia Tech (97) and No. 18 NC State (106). The Panthers posted 702 points and finished directly ahead of East Carolina (773), Murray State (781), Radford (782) and UNCG (814).

The finish was three positions better than HPU’s 2013 showing at the event.

“I’m proud of our group for what it accomplished this season in winning conference,” head coach Jenna Wrieden said. “But we still need to translate that success onto the national level. There are no miracles or magic in this sport. You have to have an intense amount of preparation, trust in that preparation, then execute your plan with a high confidence level as an individual and as a team. I didn’t see that today from this group.”

Senior Leah Anne Wirfel put the finishing touches on her HPU cross country career by leading the Panthers with a 128th-place finish. The New Germany, Pa., native crossed the finish line in 22:35.00.

Sophomore Cozette Collin was right behind Wirfel in 132nd (22:38.10), while fellow sophomore Natalia Ocasio finished 140th in 22:49.90. Ocasio improved 44 spots from her finish in 2013.

Showing similar improvement from 2013, senior Krista Willard jumped 54 positions to place 159th in 23:01.60, while junior Katie Farina moved up 33 spots from 2013 to place 160th.

Rounding out the HPU contingent in Louisville, freshman Kelly Hayes placed 182nd (23:18.20) in her regional debut and junior Erika Peoples placed 211th in 23:53.40.

“We have the right group here to establish tradition,” Wrieden said. “When you fall down or have a bad day, you have no other choice but to get back up and press forward and that’s exactly what we’re going to do. If anyone can do that, these girls can.”