WINNECONNE, WIS. 11/19/11 – Paige Mills couldn't ask for a better way to end her Keene State College cross country career. The senior from Keene raced to All-American honors, finishing 17th at the NCAA Division III cross country championship held at the Lake Breeze Golf Club in Winneconne, Wis., on Saturday.
Mills, who covered the 6K rolling hill course in a time of 21:26, becomes the eighth women's to earn cross country All-American honors at Keene State and just the second to receive the award multiple times, - joining an elite group that includes Mary Proulx ( a three-time All-American 2000-02) and Jenn Adams ( a two-time All-American (2005, 2007). Paige is a special runner," said KSC Coach Peter Thomas. "It was a nice way for her to end her Keene State career."
Senior Kevin Hoyt of Newtown, Conn., the lone KSC runner in the men's field, just missed in his All-American bid, placing 46th on the 8K course with a time of 24:56.
"I was really excited and wanted to take it all in and appreciate my last collegiate race," Mills said. "I was just enjoying myself. I was very comfortable and confident."– I felt strong and I loved every step and every mile."
Mills went out with the top runners and was just two seconds off the lead through two miles. Hitting a rough patch at the three-quarter mark of the race, Mills fell back. "I eased up a little bit because I wanted to make sure I had something in reserve," she said.
Mills rallied over the final 300-meters, passing a couple of runners and fulfilling her All-American aspirations. I was definitely happy to get All-American, especially after last week when I had a tough time at the regional race," Mills said. "I lost a little confidence, but I knew I was capable of getting All-American."
Heading for the finish line, Mills said she reflected on her college career. "It hit me in the last 300-meters than this was my last college cross country race," she said. "It's bittersweet. "My college career is over, but it's not my last race."
Hoyt, who competed in the championship with the Owl men's team as a sophomore, said he was pleased with his performance. "I was happy with my race being just a few spots short of being All-American. I ran where I wanted too, so it was a successful day."
"He gave a great effort. He was right in the hunt for All-American (top-35) all the way," said Thomas, who counted down the positions as Hoyt went by him. He could see 35th up there."
"I still have indoor and outdoor track to get All-American," said Hoyt, who was looking to become the first men's All-American at KSC since Dave Bridgewater in 2004.
North Central College of Illinois with 110 points and Washington (Mo.) University (70 points) captured the men's and women's team championship respectively. Ben Sathre, a senior from St. Thomas College in Minn. Won the men's race in a time of 23:44 while Chiara Del Piccolo, a sophomore from Williams, won the women's race with a time of 20:52.