Two weeks after winning the HAAC Championship, the Baker women's cross country team traveled to Vancouver, Wash., to compete in the NAIA National Championships Nov. 20.
The Wildcats finished in 26th place out of the 32 teams that qualified for the meet.
Freshman Megan Rosa led the team, finishing in 108th place with a time of 19:42, and was followed by freshman Lauren Jaqua, who ran a time of 19:49 to finish in 117th place.
"I was happy with how we did," Jaqua said. "It was a good experience and every team, in order to be great, needs to have that first experience race, so that was really good for us."
Sophomore Devin Freeman, 19:59, placed 134th; sophomore Lindsey Brown, 20:16, finished in 149th place; senior and Baker Orange staff member Mary Loveland, 20:27, placed 156th; freshman Ashley McBride, 21:24, placed 187th and sophomore Corinna Papps, 22:07, rounded out Baker's top seven, finishing in 199th place.
"I don't think I could have asked for a better freshman season, to be honest," Rosa said. "It was great. We came in, we had a great bunch of girls, we all worked really, really hard, we all really care for each other and it paid off big time."
The Wildcats were ranked 30th in the country going into the race, yet finished in 26th place.
"The fact that we have such a young team and we know we have so much time to improve is really encouraging," Rosa said.
Head coach Zach Kindler said what the team will take most from the national meet is the experience.
"This is their first national meet they've been to, so, just having the experience of being there will allow for them to next year come back and have a better idea of what it is and how to prepare for that mentally, physically and then just be able to continue to compete at the national level," he said.
For the men's team, junior Chris Scheideman qualified and competed at the national meet as an individual runner, finishing in 268th place out of 326 runners, with a time of 28:26.
"Definitely being at the national meet, it's the same thing, he's going to get a lot of experience," Kindler said. "He's got one more year of eligibility for cross country, so he should have the opportunity to qualify again next year as well, but he didn't have the race that, compared to the rest of the season, that he's been having."
With the exception of Loveland, each runner on the men's and women's team will return next season.
The Baker runners could qualify for another chance to run at the Vancouver course, as the national meet will be hosted in Vancouver next year.
"Especially now that we've been in our first year … for me it's just accepting that this is our goal again now every single year," Jaqua said. "We've done it once, we can do it again, and I think that's what our plan is."