PELLA, Iowa – Briana McCloskey closed out a great second half to the season and the Simpson women's cross country team was the most improved in the region, placing 19th of 27 teams at the NCAA Division III Central Region Championships on Saturday.
Running in sub-freezing conditions, McCloskey placed 69th in the field of 189 runners and the Storm improved seven spots from last year's 26th-place effort.
Fielding a team of five freshmen and sophomores, the result was Simpson's best team effort at the regional since 2010.
"I'm absolutely thrilled with our women's squad," head coach Heath Moenck said. "Our goal all season was to be the most improved team in the region, and we successfully did that."
A sophomore from Sierra Vista, Ariz., McCloskey – who paced the women in each of their last three meets – completed the 6k course in 23:38.4 to give Simpson its best individual finish at the meet since 2011.
"Bri capped off a terrific sophomore season with a huge PR and improvement from a year ago," Moenck said. "For her to move up 74 places is a testament to her dedication to the sport and the team."
Simpson finished with 523 points as a team, just two shy of Dubuque.
Around the Central Region
Teams from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference made up the top three in the standings as Carleton (60 pts) captured the team title, followed by St. Olaf (81 pts) and St. Thomas (127 pts). Carleton's Ruth Steinke took home medalist honors (21:16.0).