WORCESTER, Mass. - When senior Mia Rogers (North Dighton, Mass.) toes the starting line at Saturday’s NCAA Division III Women’s Cross Country Championships at Lake Breeze Golf Club in Winneconne, Wisconsin, she will be the first ever person to do so with the word “Worcester” across the front of her uniform.
“I thought Nationals would be a really cool (achievement), but I never thought I would be close to participating in it,” Rogers, the first ever Worcester State University student-athlete - male or female - to compete in the NCAA Cross Country Championships, said. “I feel like I’m a pretty average runner, so my goals were never really that high.”
Rogers dominated throughout the regular season, leading the Lancers in every meet except the MASCAC Championships, where she still finished third overall to be named to the MASCAC All-Conference team. She was named MASCAC Runner of the Week three times this season.
In what proved to be the biggest run of her life, Rogers crossed the finish line at last weekend’s NCAA New England Regionals in a time of 22:21.5, good for 14th place. As a top seven time among athletes whose teams did not advance to the NCAA Championships, Rogers earned qualification for Nationals as an individual.
“I just couldn’t even believe it,” Rogers said of when she found out that she had qualified. “I was very surprised - I didn’t even think it was true.”
“When I view people who go to Nationals, even though we’re Division III - Division III has such a wide range of athletes, I thought that was (reserved) for the best of the best,” Rogers said. “I didn’t think that was me at all.”
Just competing in the NCAA Championships isn’t going to be enough for Rogers. “I think if I’m feeling my best and I’m mentally all there, I really think I could get in the top 40.” A top 40 finish would land Rogers a spot on the All-America team, which would be another first for a Worcester State cross country runner.
The NCAA Division III Women’s Cross Country Championships will take place Saturday at Lake Breeze Golf Club in Winneconne, Wis., starting at 12:15 p.m. Eastern. For up to the minute coverage, be sure to follow @WSULancers on Twitter, and check WSULancers.com post-race for a recap of the event.