LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- With a time of 25:38.9 on Saturday, Sean Richardson was one of the top individual runners from the West Region at the wet, muddy NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships. Among the seven individuals to receive an automatic bid to nationals, Richardson was third to cross at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park.
Richardson moved up double-digit positions over several checkpoints in the race's first 6.4K. In all, he raced from 222nd at the 1K checkpoint to finish in 129th place.
Tucker Cargile of Redlands (24:51.1) and Simon Ricci of Caltech (25:27.8) were the only other individuals from the west region with faster times. From last week's NCAA Div. III West Regional, two full teams and seven individuals not from those teams automatically qualified for the national race.
Running on wet and muddy ground, Richardson's start had him farther back in the initial pack of racers on the muddy course. He regained ground quickly, however, going up 31 spots between the 1K and 3K splits.
"The gun goes off and everyone makes a sprint for it," Richardson recalled. "I got cut up in the sprint. Very overwhelming start. My legs only move so quick. I'm not really a sprinter, and I found myself in the back.
"My second and third miles were a bit slow, but I made my way up 100 spots. It took a lot of strength to accelerate and decelerate."
Richardson managed to continue overtaking others and picked up nearly another 40 spots at the 4K checkpoint. By the time he reached the 6.4K mark, he was in 126th.
"I was still tired from the beginning of the race, but I could still move up," Richardson said. "I was passing people, and they were passing me. It was easier to move up than I thought coming into the race. I took advantage of turns and hills the best I could and made moves where it opened up."
He averaged 5:09.2 per mile. He finished ahead of Northwest Conference champion Colin Monaghan of Puget Sound who placed 200th at 26:05.8.
"It was a good last race," Richardson said, a four-year member of the Pioneers. He was Lewis & Clark's first national competitor since 2016.
- Liam Monheim and Blake Slattengren were the last Pioneers qualifiers in the 2016 NCAA Div. III Cross Country Championships, Richardson's freshman year
- Tony Calderon (Colorado College), Matt Scarlett (Occidental) and Matthew Salas (La Verne) were the other individual qualifiers from the west region
- Scarlett had the best finish of the three in 186th place
- Patrick Watson of Stevenson was the individual champion with a time of 24:13.9, and Pomona-Pitzer won the team championship with 164 points to finish ahead of North Central (182)
- Richardson's career-best time of 24:37.4 at the NWC Championships earlier this month places him fourth in school history and the fastest time by a Pioneers runner since 2001