By: Sam Knehans, Communications & Sports Information Intern
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Maria Bernard of British Columbia has been named the NAIA Women's Cross Country National Runner of the Week, the national office announced Wednesday. Bernard was chosen for her performance during the week of Sept. 30 – Oct. 6 and was selected out of a pool of conference and independent award winners.
Bernard, a junior from Calgary, Alberta, led the Thunderbirds to a dominant victory at the 39th Annual Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational, hosted by NCAA Division III Willamette (Ore.), on Oct. 5 in Salem, Ore. British Columbia brought home the team title among NAIA, Junior College, Club and Unattached runners in the Gold Division, but the team’s average 5-kilometer time of 17:48.6 would have also topped the Cardinal Division made up of NCAA Division I, Division II and Division III programs.
Bernard outpaced the 184-runner field with a 5k time of 17:23.90 as all seven Thunderbirds finished among the top 15, including five among the top 10 and four among the top five. Bernard’s time was more than 11 seconds better than her nearest competitor in the Gold Division and would have also bested the 190-runner Cardinal Division field by over six seconds.
For the complete player of the week calendar, click here.
Nominees: Kristen Garwood, Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.); Lauren Grindstaff, Milligan (Tenn.); Robbiccaa Williams, Tennessee Wesleyan; Brittany Wells, Truett-McConnell (Ga.); Sofia Rios, UC Merced; Hannah Weisner, William Jessup (Calif.); Alexis Mitzel, Corban (Ore.); Hillary Holt, College of Idaho; Sarah Whybark, Concordia (Ore.); Rachelle Roelle, Eastern Oregon; Hilary Halford, St. Francis (Ill.); Gretchen Spahr, Huntington (Ind.); Isabel Wharton, Indiana Wesleyan; Leah Esposito, Carroll (Mont.); Tia Carnahan, Lewis-Clark State (Idaho); Katie Smelker, Mount Marty (S.D.); Brianna Blunt, Tougaloo (Miss.); Ayded Reyes, Cal State San Marcos; Katy Falkenberg, Asbury (Ky.); Hana Jiraskova, Point Park (Pa.); Mercy Kershner, Berea (Ky.); Morgan Stanley, Indiana East; Meliah Carrel, Midway (Ky.); Danielle Hoop, Cumberlands (Ky.); Sarah Biehl, Shawnee State (Ohio); Talisa Budder, Haskell (Kan.); Liz Mosbach, Mount Mercy (Iowa); Ethel Ajanga, Wiley (Texas); Jessica Davis, Texas Wesleyan; Annie Hills, Loyola (La.); Chloe Brown, Belhaven (Miss.); Emily Dolan, Spring Hill (Ala.); Ellie Staker, Embry-Riddle (Fla.); Joy Miller, USC Beaufort (S.C.); No Nomination, Ave Maria (Fla.); No Nominee, Northwood (Fla.); No Nominee, Warner (Fla.); Melaina Bent, Concordia (Mich.); Laura Condron, Indiana Tech; Elaine Johnson, Siena Heights (Mich.); Ashley Yeager, Lourdes (Ohio).
2013 Women's Cross Country Composite Award Winners
Week 1 (September 18): Ayded Reyes, Cal State San Marcos
Week 2 (September 25): Lindsey Martin, Columbia (Mo.)
Week 3 (October 2): Hannah Helker, Oklahoma Baptist
Week 4 (October 9): Maria Bernard, British Columbia