Caroline McMartin

Caroline McMartin (left) was 19th in Saturday's NCAA regional field

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — Sophomore Caroline McMartin (Pella) gained All-NCAA Division III Midwest Region distinction in her first regional appearance for the Central College women’s cross country team.

And maybe more.

McMartin is in line for an at-large berth in the NCAA Division III national meet next Saturday at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Kentucky. The top seven runners outside of the teams selected for the national meet will advance. The field will be announced by the NCAA Sunday afternoon. She would be Central’s first national women’s meet qualifier since Miranda Kruiswyk in 2018.

“We have to wait until tomorrow when we know for sure but it looks pretty good,” coach Joe Dunham said.

McMartin was 19th in 22:27.9 on the 6,000-meter course, 16 seconds under her career-best time as Central took sixth in a challenging 24-team field.

“She just continues to run PR after PR and she did it again today,” Dunham said. “I’m so happy for her.”

Wartburg College, ranked third nationally, won with 34 points with No. 4-rated Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) second with 43 and the No. 7-ranked University of Chicago third with 71. Loras College was fourth with 153, 34th-rated Elmhurst College (Ill.) was fifth with 193 and Central finished with 224 to outdistance seventh-place Wheaton College (Ill.), which had 273.

Addison Parrott (freshman, Danville) was 47th in 23:16.6, topping her best of 23:23, Megan Johnson (sophomore, Parkersburg, Aplington-Parkersburg HS) was 51st in 23:20.8, Mari Vroom (senior, Okoboji) was 53rd in 23:31.1, Lindsey Davidson (sophomore, Northwood, Northwood-Kensett HS) was 55th in 23:34.4, under her previous best of 23:46, Kiersten Conway (freshman, Solon) was 70th in 23:52.1 and Emma Murphy (freshman, Greeley, Colo., Frontier Academy) was 83rd in 24:02.1, under her career best of 24:12.

“I’m really happy for our women’s team,” Dunham said. “We ran really, really well. I have high expectations for them. It was a very good effort.”

While McMartin’s season is expected to continue, it was the year’s final outing for Central as a team and with six freshmen and sophomores in the top seven—all of whom were experiencing their first regional meet--Dunham saw a lot that he likes, especially for a young squad.

“They were able to do the things that were expected of them every single time and there’s a lot to be said for that,” he said. “We didn’t ever have a race where our team blew up and didn’t do well. Every single time we went out and raced we got better.

“We’ve seen a lot of improvement and we’re going to definitely build on it as we move forward.”

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