Johns Hopkins Women Win Fifth DIII Title In Six Years, Kurtenbach Shocks Field

By Jennifer Zahn l FloTrack

On a day where favorites mostly prevailed across all three divisions, the NCAA Division III women's championship provided one sure thing and one stunning upset. Johns Hopkins won its fifth national title in six years, while Chicago junior Khia Kurtenbach dropped the pack in the last mile for a shocking win.


Final Team Scores

  • 1. Johns Hopkins, 96
  • 2. UW-Eau Claire, 191
  • 3. Washington U., 202
  • 4. MIT, 210
  • 5. Carleton, 258
  • 6. SUNY Geneseo, 274
  • 7. Tufts, 294
  • 8. Williams, 310
  • 9. Ithaca, 350
  • 10. RPI, 397

The Blue Jays' win, led by a third-place finish from Ellie Clawson, cements them as one of the best programs in DIII history. Their five titles in six years matches the legendary Jack Daniels's SUNY Cortland teams, which also won five titles from 1992 to 1997. Five titles total also breaks Hopkins out of a three-way tie with St. Thomas and UW-Oshkosh, and now leaves them only behind Middlebury (six) and Cortland (seven) all-time. 

Title No. 6 might not be far off. With the exception of No. 6 runner Caroline Smith (56th overall), all of Bobby Van Allen's runners at NCAAs return next year. Natalia LaSpada and Therese Olshanski were All-Americans at 23rd and 29th, and Felicia Koerner (42nd) and Rebecca Grusby (48th) were within 10 seconds of All-American status. 

Midwest rivals UW-Eau Claire and Washington U. rounded out the top three, roughly 100 points behind the Jays. Perhaps the most impressive part of this run has been that nearly all of the titles have been in routs. Before beating Eau Claire by 95 this year, they beat WashU by 74 last year, MIT by 25 in 2014, Williams by 52 in 2013, and Wartburg by 63 in 2012.

Six weeks after running 21:22 and losing handily to Ithaca's Taryn Cordani at Pre-Nationals on the same course, Khia Kurtenbach ran 20:39 for the win today, six seconds faster than Cordani ran here in October. Cordani came in as a massive favorite, but Kurtenbach, Claremont-Mudd Scripps senior Bryn McKillop, Coast Guard freshman Caitlyn Mooney, and Hopkins junior Ellie Clawson gapped Cordani early, and the upset was on. With Cordani falling off, all four smelled a national title, and began hammering despite winds that were reaching 30 miles an hour during the women's race. It was only a question of who would take control in the last two miles.

Top 10 Individual Results

  • 1. 20:39 JR Khia Kurtenbach, Chicago
  • 2. 20:45 SR Bryn McKillop, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
  • 3. 20:47 JR Ellie Clawson, Johns Hopkins
  • 4. 20:48 FR Kaitlyn Mooney, Coast Guard
  • 5. 20:49 SR Nicky Roberts, Amherst
  • 6. 21:00 SO Meg Mathison, Carleton
  • 7. 21:00 JR Abigail Nadler, Middlebury
  • 8. 21:01 SR Cheyenne Moore, UW-Oshkosh
  • 9. 21:02 SR Emily Richards, Ohio Northern
  • 10. 21:02 SR Gabrielle Stravach, Emory

As the group climbed the massive hill in the fourth kilometer, Kurtenbach turned the screws and grew a gap on Mooney and Clawson, both of whom McKillop eventually ran down. She was clearly tired and weaving down the last 100 meters, but she had earned such a large lead that it didn't matter, and she won by six seconds for Chicago's first individual title since 1999.