Boutelle takes 86th at NCAA Championship, nears program's 6K record

SPOKANE, Wash. - As the first woman to represent Saint Michael's College cross country at an NCAA Championship, junior Chloe Boutelle (Saratoga Springs, N.Y./Saratoga Springs) claimed 86th place among 244 runners on Saturday at the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex. By clocking in at 22:30, Boutelle was just six seconds shy of her own 6K school record, set at the 2012 NCAA East Regional Championship in Nashua, N.H.

Wearing bib No. 229, Boutelle improved 21 positions after the midway point in the race, which was hosted by the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and the Spokane Regional Sports Commission. Thanks to Boutelle, Saint Michael's was one of 57 Division II institutions represented at the meet, and one of six from the Northeast-10 Conference. Among NE-10 runners, Boutelle was sixth, trailing two from Bentley University and one apiece from Adelphi University, American International College and Stonehill College. She was eight seconds short of finishing in the top 70.

"It was awesome," said Boutelle of the experience and of competing with runners from across the country. "You didn't really notice you were tired because you had so many people around you. It was so fun. I kind of forgot how long the course was, so I kicked earlier than I expected, and that's why I passed so many people. I was running with a couple runners from Southwest Baptist University [Missouri] and Western Oregon University, but was cheering on the Stonehill women while running with them and gauging my pace by them, and passing them toward the end. It would be so fun to be out here with my whole team and run with them in this crazy competitive group of people. So I hope they can come out here next year too."

An at-large qualifier for the championship after taking seventh in 22:48 at the Nov. 10 NCAA East Regional Championship in Boston's Franklin Park, Boutelle joined Drew Best '04 as the lone Purple Knight harriers to ever compete at an NCAA Championship. Best placed 69th out of 176 during the 2003 meet in Cary, N.C.

Head coach Molly Peters, who is also Boutelle's Nordic skiing coach at the College, mentioned that Boutelle had academic obligations to fulfill before racing, with her schoolwork occupying some of her attention upon arriving in Washington on Thursday, but that both of them have enjoyed the experience. "Chloe had to take a physics test yesterday and finish a paper, but we'll do some socializing tonight. She was really happy with her race, she thought it was fun. She had a great race and was right in there with so many people, and passed so many people. We're just excited to be here, and we can't wait to come back next year with the whole team."