Paige Stoner places 17th at NCAA Championship, the highest finish in program history

first_imgLOUISVILLE, Ky. — Twenty yards from the finish line, tears streamed down Paige Stoner’s face as she hugged teammate Shannon Malone.Stoner, a senior who transferred to SU in 2015 to chase “big goals,” finished 17th in the Women’s 6,000-meter race at the NCAA Championships Saturday morning, the best finish in SU women’s program history. She exceeded her goal of finishing top-40 at this race, becoming an All-American in the final cross country race of her college career.“Around 4K I knew that I was still feeling pretty good and I could still run,” Stoner said. “When I got to 5K, I was trying to pick people off. I didn’t quite have the final kick. I probably had a faster last 2k at ACCs, honestly. I came out quick so I was feeling that during that last 2K. I’m just really happy.”On a 60-degree and cloudy day at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park, Stoner led the Syracuse women to a 26th-place finish with her time of 19:52.0, identical to her victory at the ACC Championships on Oct. 27 on the same course.Stoner’s mother, Denise, watched the race from the big screen near the finish line. She counted as each runner ran by.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textOne. Two. Three. Four. Five. And so on, until Stoner crossed the finish at 17th.“I couldn’t focus on anything else,” Denise said at the Syracuse family tent, a few hundred yards from the finish line.Friday night, both Denise and her husband, Daniel, visited Stoner at the hotel where Syracuse’s runners stayed. They spoke for about 15 minutes before she attended a team dinner. When they wanted to chat with her later around 8:30 p.m., Stoner said she needed to head to bed. The start time had moved up.Earlier Friday, the women’s race start was bumped from 10:45 a.m. to 9 a.m., which “she wasn’t too happy about,” Denise said. For Stoner, this meant she needed to move her wakeup time from about 6:45 a.m., her parents said, to 5 a.m., because she wakes up four hours before every race she runs.When she woke up, she munched on an all-natural wheat English muffin with butter on it, along with a Granny Smith apple. Both are snacks she brought with her from Syracuse in a small lunch box.“That’s her thing,” her mother, Denise, said.It has clicked for Stoner. Other team members have caught onto her pre-race snack and eat English muffins with her, Denise said.Stoner was in the lead pack for most of the race until New Mexico’s Ednah Kurgat pulled away at the 13-minute mark. Nearing the end of the race, Stoner’s late kick propelled her to become the first SU runner to cross the finish line.Members of Stoner’s former college team, Lipscomb, drove from Nashville to cheer her on. They yelled and waved a Lipscomb flag for Stoner, who as a freshman in 2014 placed second at the A-Sun Cross Country Championships with a time of 17:40.0, earning a spot on the All-Conference First Team.“It was just joy,” Stoner said of the final straightaway. “You work so hard all your life. This is my last race ever, to go out like this, it’s really special.” Comments Published on November 18, 2017 at 10:27 am Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more