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Smith Sets Program Record at NCAA Championships

Lilly Smith (photo credit: d3photography)
Lilly Smith (photo credit: d3photography)

WINNECONNE, Wis. -- Covenant women's cross country senior Lilly Smith capped her incredible cross country career with another record as she set a program mark and finished 104th overall at the NCAA Division III Championships on Saturday at the Lake Breeze Golf Club.

Smith, making Covenant's first appearance at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, completed the 6k course in a time of 22:34.8 to finish 104th, out of 279 runners. The time broke Smith's previous program record by more than 20 seconds.

"The start was fast and the first mile was crowded with a lot of people pushing and bumping," Smith, a senior from Weaverville, N.C., said. "I ran pretty even splits and it was fun to run a race with so many people to push and pull me to a personal record."

At the 3,000 meter mark, Smith clocked in at 11:10.4 and was at 18:42.5 at the 5,000 meter distance before finishing at 22:34.8.

"The finish was tough, but I was excited to hear everyone cheering and see the big finish line up ahead," Smith added. "It was exciting to finish my cross country career at nationals and I'm thankful for all that Coach Stanford has done for me, my team, and to be able to represent Covenant."

Smith finished one second ahead of Ellie Miller of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Washington University-St. Louis took home the national championship as the Bears' Paige Lawler won the individual national title with a time of 20:55.0. Johns Hopkins, MIT, Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and SUNY Geneseo rounded out the top five teams.

"Lilly is a competitor and you get her around other top competitors and she is going to work," said head coach Katie Stanford. "She has had an incredible career and this is the best way to end it with a personal record at the national championship."

Smith ends her cross country career with most of Covenant's records in the 6k distance, including all of the top six times. The senior earned USA South Runner of the Year this season, a second straight honor, and was a three-time All-USA South runner.

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