Oberlin Places Two Members on All-American Team

Junior Emma Lehmann strides through the women’s 6K. Lehmann finished 11th at the NCAA national meet and helped carry the women’s cross country team to eighth place.

Eric Kelley, d3photography.com

Junior Emma Lehmann strides through the women’s 6K. Lehmann finished 11th at the NCAA national meet and helped carry the women’s cross country team to eighth place.

Erickson Andrews, Staff Writer

The Oberlin Women’s Cross Country team made its fifth straight appearance in the NCAA Championship meet last month. The Yeowomen finished eighth overall, the best result in the team’s history. Going into the meet in Hanover, IN, the team was ranked 15th in the country.

Judging by a season with four first-place results and no finishes outside the top ten, one would hardly know that injuries plagued the Yeowomen this year.

“There were times we had up to four of our girls out with injuries at a time,” recalled junior Kyle Neal. “We started the season with really high goals and, despite the injuries, we met them.”

Junior Carey Lyons, a crucial component of the team’s success in past seasons, was notably absent from the Yeowomen’s lineup for much of the season. Despite multiple injuries and missing nearly half the season, Lyons was able to come back and participate in the team’s final two, most crucial meets.

Having earned ninth place the previous year, the Yeowomen knew the bar was set high, and yet they managed to improve this year by finishing eighth. Led by two juniors, Emma Lehmann and Kyle Neal, Oberlin tallied 331 points. In cross country meets, points are assigned to runners based on the place in which they finish. The top five runners from each team add their scores together to make the team score. Like in golf, the lower the score, the better.

Lehmann finished in 21:35.3, earning her an impressive 11th place finish. Her time was a mere 25 seconds behind the first-place finisher from the College of St. Scholastica, indicating just how competitive the race was. At last year’s national championship meet, Lehmann finished 42nd.

“Compared to last year’s race, this one is much less stressful,” commented Lehmann. “In the front you’re surrounded by fewer people, and you have space to move around and focus on the girls directly in front of you.”

Neal came in at 21:55.8, a time good enough for 28th place. Lehmann and Neal were honored for their performances by earning the All-American accolade. Rounding out the top five for Oberlin were junior Sarah Jane Kerwin, 2012 All-American Lyons and senior Lauren Taylor. They took 85th, 157th and 167th respectively.

The atmosphere at Nationals was different than any other meet the Yeowomen had participated in this season. The crowd was much larger, and the runners numerous.

“You have to be more focused or the largeness of it will get to you,” said Neal. “It was a lot of fun, but significantly more pressure.”

Recalling the fans, Lehmann remarked, “They were all running around with body paint and making lots of noise. Their energy was contagious.”

In such an individual sport, it is tough to make predictions this early on, but the excitement is ever-present around one of Oberlin’s most honored sports teams.

With four of their top five finishers returning next year, the future is bright for the Yeowomen. “One perfect day with no injuries, we could have four All-Americans,” said Lehmann.