JMU's Shannon Saunders Earns NCAA Bid

GREENVILLE, N.C. (11/13/04) - James Madison junior Shannon Saunders (Forest, Va./Jefferson Forest) placed fourth in the NCAA Southeast Women's Cross Country Regional Saturday and earned a berth to the NCAA Championships Nov. 22. She helped lead the Dukes to a seventh-place team finish in the field of 25 schools.

Saunders, who two weeks ago won the Colonial Athletic Association title, covered the 6,000-meter terrain at Kristi Lake in 20 minutes and 29.8 seconds. North Carolina's Carol Henry, a junior, won the race in 19:57.5. There were 180 runners.

Junior Nelly Anderson (Charlotte, N.C./Cordillera Academy) was the second JMU runner to place, as she crossed the line in 21:29.9 to take 41st. Freshman Michelle Beardmore (Front Royal, Va./Warren County) clocked in at 21:49.7 for a 49th-place showing. She was the seventh freshman to finish the race. Junior Tiffany Cross (Rockville, Va./Atlee) came in 56th in 21:55.9, and senior Cindy Dunham (Warren, Pa./Warren) was the final JMU harrier to score, placing 93rd in 22:40.6.

JMU's other two entries were senior Ashley Payne (Reston, Va./Herndon) and freshman Kelly Payne (Mechanicsville, Va./Atlee). Ashley was 124th in 23:13.9, and Kelly was 132nd in 23:24.7.

Duke won the team title with a meet-low total of 71 points, followed by North Carolina State (75), North Carolina (80), Wake Forest (130), Virginia (155), William and Mary (187) and JMU (238).

The NCAA Championship race will be held in Terra Haute, Ind.