CMS earned its 15th straight bid to nationals (photo by Christian Campbell)
CMS earned its 15th straight bid to nationals (photo by Christian Campbell)

CMS Women's Cross Country Repeats as West Region Champion, Earns Nationals Bid for 15th Straight Season

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Natalie Bitetti earned the NCAA West Region championship for a second straight season, leading a 1-2-3 finish with Elle Marsyla and Riley Capuano as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's cross country dominated for the team title on Saturday morning at Riverside City Cross Country Course.

Bitetti won the individual race in 21:32.8, a margin of 22.5 seconds over Marsyla, who finished in 21:53.5, with Capuano close behind in 21:56.4. The first non-CMS finisher was Kendall Accetta of Colorado College, 34.5 seconds behind Bitetti. 

Sara Wexler was 13th in 22:44.1, and Angie Gushue was the fifth Athena to cross the line in 15th place in 22:47.4, securing the team championship. Laura Zimmer (19th, 22:56.0) and Revere Schmidt (28th, 23:18.6) also earned All-Region honors by finishing in the top 36. 

CMS earned 32 points as a team, well ahead of second-place George Fox with 74. Colorado College was third, UC Santa Cruz fourth, and Chapman was the second-place SCIAC team in fifth with 193, edging Pomona-Pitzer by a single point. 

CMS will head to nationals next week in Pennsylvania with its 15th straight team qualification, where they hope to challenge for the national title. The Athenas were second in 2021, just two points behind champion Johns Hopkins, which was the highest finish in program history. 

This season, the Athenas have been ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation after winning the Pre-Nationals at the same course they will be running on next week. CMS slipped to No. 6 after dominating the SCIAC Championship, but showed with another dominant performance today that they are one of the teams that will be in the hunt to hold the first-place trophy in Pennsylvania. 

Bitetti, who was the NCAA West Region Athlete of the Year last season, has been All-American both seasons with CMS, finishing 16th in 2021 and 38th a year ago, when the race was run in freezing temperatures in Michigan, with temperatures in the single digits at the start of the race.