Rocky's Richter, Hart qualify for nationals

2012-11-02T15:53:00Z 2012-11-03T00:11:06Z Rocky's Richter, Hart qualify for nationalsGazette Staff The Billings Gazette

HELENA -- Rocky Mountain College junior Ana Richter and sophomore teammate Rachael Hart were among the top finishers Friday afternoon at the Frontier Conference cross country meet -- and now both are headed back to the NAIA national championships.

Richter, who finished third individually in the women's race, and Hart, who was sixth, are hoping they will have company on their trip to nationals.

There's a chance the nationally ranked Rocky women's team, which finished third overall at the Frontier championships, could also receive an at-large berth to the 32-team nationals. 

"That's what we're hoping for right now," Rocky coach Alan King said. "We'll have to wait and see."

The NAIA championships will take place on Nov. 17 at Fort Vancouver, Wash.

King said he will likely find out Sunday night if his Battlin' Bears receive an at-large berth.

Carroll College swept the men's and women's team titles at the Frontier meet to secure automatic berths to nationals.

Dave Marks of Lewis-Clark State was the individual winner for the men, covering the eight-kilometer distance in 25 minutes, 50.2 seconds. Carroll's Rhianna Grossman repeated as the women's champion with a clocking of 18:38.3 for five kilometers.

Carroll's women, with five runners in the top 11, three-peated as team champion with 32 points. The Saints are ranked sixth nationally.

L-C State was second to Carroll with 53 points and Rocky third at 57. L-C State is ranked 12th nationally and Rocky 14th, and both will be under consideration for at-large invitations.

"We're pretty confident we'll get one at-large berth," King said. "We're a little nervous about getting two."

Kelsey Klettke of L-C State was the runner-up to Grossman in the women's race at 18:50.1. Rocky's Richter was third out of 56 runners at 19:03.4, while Hart was sixth at 19:25.9.

Richter raced at nationals in 2010 before being slowed by injuries last season. Hart qualified in 2011.

At the Frontier meet, the top five finishers individually inside the top 15 and not on national-qualifying teams were guaranteed spots to nationals.

King said his women's team "raced very well" on a windy afternoon on an up-and-down course. "Everybody thought we beat (L-C State)."

In the end, Rocky's Autumn Charges Strong was 14th at 20:03.1, Selene Johnson placed 16th at 20:13.5 and Megan Breeding was 18th at 20:22.5.

L-C runners finished second, fourth, ninth, 17th and 21st.

On the men's side, unranked Carroll ended 8th-ranked L-C State's string of five consecutive titles. The Saints wound up with 42 points, while L-C State and 17th-ranked Dickinson State tied for second at 52.

Rocky's men were sixth at 167, with Shawn Peden finishing 33rd out of 48 runners at 29:40.1.



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