Case Western Reserve University senior Stephanie Nothelle's (Porter, IN) last race as a Spartan will be a big one. The women's team qualified for the 2006 NCAA Division III Championship by winning the Great Lakes Regional Meet Saturday in Hanover, Indiana.
"It's a dream come true," said Nothelle. "When I finished the regional meet my freshman year, I told a teammate I wanted to make it to nationals by my senior year. After my sophomore season, I thought that was just something every freshman said, but that it would never actually happen."
After a week of rest and preparation, the Case women will travel to Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio this Saturday for the 12:00 p.m. championship race.
"We are just going to try and stay relaxed this week and not get real worked up," explained Nothelle. "It's a pretty big meet and we don't want nerves to get in the way. We will do what we have done all year long and that's have fun." Nothelle described how the team did the "Hokey Pokey" just minutes prior to the start of the regional race Saturday to help junior Esther Erb (Richmond, VA) get over a sore ankle.
The Spartans have made history in 2006, winning its first All-Ohio Championship in early October and ending the month with its first University Athletic Association title. The team's Great Lakes regional victory was also a first for the women. The Spartans also moved up 30 spots in the national rankings from 35th to 5th during the season.
"The UAA championship was unique because we beat Wash U., " said Nothelle, who is majoring in biology and German at Case. "It was at their place and they were ranked as high as first in the country this year."
The University Athletic Association had three schools automatically qualify for this year's NCAA Championship—Case, Washington University in St. Louis and Emory University in Atlanta. The University of Chicago received an at-large bid, meaning four teams from the UAA will vie for a National Championships this weekend.
"Our conference is amazing," said Head Coach Kathy Lanese. "It will seem like the UAA championship all over again in Wilmington."
Welcome back Esther… Case junior Esther Erb will make her second road trip to the NCAA Championship. Erb qualified a year ago by finishing sixth at the regional. She placed 86th overall at the 2005 NCAA Championship. Erb has led the Spartans all season long with a first place and five second place finishes in seven meets.
More UAA… Just under 500 UAA student-athletes posted a 3.2 or better cumulative grade point this fall and an amazing 18 teams qualified for the NCAA postseason. Men's cross country had three teams make it to the NCAA Championship (New York University, Carnegie Mellon University & Washington). Men's soccer had a record five teams (Case, New York, Washington, University of Rochester & Chicago) make the NCAA Tournament and women's soccer (Washington, Rochester) had two. Women's volleyball (Emory, Washington, New York) had three teams see NCAA postseason action and in football, Carnegie Mellon made it into the NCAA Playoffs.
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