MADISON, Wis. - Emma Benner and Jaret Carpenter had matching seventh-place individual finishes Friday at the Great Lakes Regional. Kiara McIntosh added an all-regional performance as the women were seventh and the men took sixth at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course.
The women's 6,000-meter race got things started. Benner and McIntosh were out front from the gun and ran with the lead pack most of the race. Benner, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, was able to stay in the top 10 as the group spread out near the 3,000-meter mark. She stayed up front, before finishing the final hill and crossing the finish line in 20:14.7. McIntosh was 25 seconds behind and came across the line in 20:39.3, which was 24th overall, to earn all-region honors.
Benner's finish matches Hope Schmelzle's seventh-place finish at regionals last season. The all-regional honors for Benner and McIntosh make it two years in a row with a pair of all-regional finishers, as Katie Hoevet was 18th a year ago. Benner's time is the best ever by a Boilermaker in at the 6,000-meter Great Lakes Regional.
Carpenter competed in his first career 10,000-meter race. The freshman was among a tight lead group the entire race. He cracked the top four with 1,000 meters to go and battled a pair of Big Ten Champions, as well as the rest of the top eight finishers from this season's Big Ten Championships. He powered through the final kilometer to finish seventh with a time of 30:27.4. He finished ahead of a pair of first team All-Big Ten performers from two weeks ago, as well as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Benner and Carpenter were both the top freshman finishers in their respective genders.
Carpenter's seventh-place finish earned him an automatic spot at next Saturday's NCAA Championships. The top four individuals who are not part of an NCAA qualifying team earn an auto bid. Three of the six individuals who finished ahead of Carpenter are on automatically qualifying teams, which guarantees him a bid. Benner is in position to earn a bid, as she was the fifth individual finisher from a non-automatic qualifying team. Multiple scenarios exist for her to advance, including Michigan State earning an at-large team bid to the NCAA Championships. The Spartans rank 22nd in the country and finished fourth in Friday's regional. Benner could also earn one of the two at-large individual spots. Both scenarios factor in seasonal performances.
The men's team's sixth-place finish is three spots higher than at the same meet a year ago. That was made possible by pack running. Jeremy Craven was the second Boilermaker to finish. He crossed the line in 34th place and a time of 31:25.5. He has been second for Purdue in every race he's competed in this season. Jacob Hanawalt was six seconds behind Craven and finished 40th with a time of 31:31.8. Hanawalt was Purdue's fourth scorer at the meet last season where he finished 67th. His time this year was 53 seconds better than a year ago.
Ben Anderson was the fourth scorer for the Boilermakers. He took 44th with a time of 31:38.4. He finished nine spots better than a year ago and was 26 seconds faster. Matthew Grider rounded out the scoring. He finished 48th with a time of 31:42.2.
All five of the men's scorers have remaining eligibility, including four with multiple years left.
On the women's side, Grace Lachmund had a good race as she was the third finisher for the Boilermakers. She took 60th with a time of 21:27.6. It was her first time scoring at regionals. Jenna Halderman was fourth for Purdue and took 69th. She finished with a time of 21:38.1 to score for the first time. Mary Abramson rounded out the scoring with a 72nd place finish. Her time was 21:39.9. Abramson also scored at regionals for the first time.
Four of the women's five scorers have remaining eligibility after this year.
The NCAA Championships are next. Complete selections will be announced Saturday.