MADISON, Wis. — The No. 23 Wisconsin women’s cross country team earned its spot at the 2023 NCAA Cross Country Championships thanks to a runner-up showing at the 2023 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Friday morning at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course.
The Badgers finished second with 71 points to earn one of two automatic qualifying spots at the regional meet, topping No. 14 Michigan State, who was third with 82 points. No. 9 Notre Dame won the team title with 39 points.
Two weeks after finishing second at the Big Ten championships in Madison, junior Leane Willemse had an outstanding race, leading the Badgers with her fifth-place finish, covering the 6,000-meter course in 20 minutes, 18.3 seconds. Willemse ran among the top 15 runners all race, moving up six spots from the 2K mark to the 4K mark and landing a top-five finish.
Lexi Westley continued her strong season, crossing in 20:44.7 for 13th place. Graduate student Danielle Orie placed 14th in 20:46.0, while junior Kylie Finger took 16th in 20:51.6. Redshirt freshman Isabella Jacobsen was back racing for the Badgers, placing 23rd in a time of 21:00.6, while Vivian Hacker was just a second behind Jacobsen, placing 25th in 21:02.4. Graduate student Samantha Stieve crossed in 21:22.4 to place 42nd.
Straight from the Course:
UW Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Mick Byrne:
“The women did an incredible job. They got second and beat Michigan State, the Big Ten champion team from this season. It was a close race between the two programs and I am very proud of our women. It was a great run again by Leane and a great run by Lexi and Danielle Orie and then to see a couple of the young women in Kylie Finger and Bella Jacobson, that was a great job.”
“The team’s goal today was just going in trying to get third to get an at-large qualifier. Obviously we got second, which is huge. It gives us comfort of hey, we’re in, we got that automatic qualifier, so that’s big.
The course was a bit faster than what it was at Nuttycombe and Big Tens, so I think that helped us with some quicker times all around. But overall the team is super excited. It’s a huge step up from Big Tens and we’re ready to crush it at nationals next week.”
Notes to know:
- Six Badgers earned all-region honors for their top-25 finishes.