FOREST CITY, Iowa -- Lorena Ramirez earned the program's first trip to the NAIA National Championship as she raced to a tenth place finished in a time of 20:56.6 to lead the Bellevue University Women's Cross Country team to fifth place at the North Star Athletic Association Championship on Friday.
Location: Forest City, Iowa
Course: Bear Creek Golf Club
Weather: Stiff north breeze, temperatures in the 20's
Course Conditions: Frozen, snow-covered terrain
Lorena Ramirez became Bellevue University's first-ever NAIA National Championship qualifier with a tenth place finish at Friday's NSAA Championship. By virtue of her top 10 finish, she was named NSAA all-conference.
Times were slowed after approximately three inches of new snow fell on the course on Wednesday evening and runners were greeted with a stiff north breeze and temperatures in the 20's at race time.
Ramirez benefitted when there was a team tie between Dickinson State and Dakota State. By NAIA rule, both teams were awarded a national bid. Consequently, the individual qualifiers (top four non-qualifying team runners) went deeper into the finish order and Ramirez became the fourth individual qualifier for the NAIA Championship.
With no mechanism in place to split the first place tie between Dickinson State and Dakota State, representatives from the NSAA got in touch with the NAIA and it was determined both teams would receive automatic bids to the NAIA National Championships. The title was the fifth-straight for Dickinson State and Dakota State's first championship.
In addition to becoming the first Bruin runner to represent the program at the National Championship and earning all-conference honors, Ramirez was recognized as BU's Champion of Character.
Coach Craig Christians:
"It was a really tough day to run, one that we were not really prepared for. A couple of our women had never raced in the snow before. Given the circumstances, I thought we ran tough and I'm proud of the way they competed."
"I was shocked when they announced that Lorena Ramirez was going as an individual qualifier. I am thrilled for her, as she has had such an outstanding season. Our team has improved greatly from a year ago and I feel like we are headed in the right direction."
Lorena Ramirez will race at the NAIA National Championships on Friday, Nov. 22 in Vancouver, Wash.