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December 3, 2021
 

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Pitcovich earns NCAA Elite 90 award in DIII Cross Country

ONU Senior Tessa Pitcovich (Stow/Stow-Munroe Falls) finished 139th out of 293 runners at the 2021 NCAA Division III Women's Cross Country Championships on Saturday, November 20, at Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, KY.

Though she didn't finish among the top 40 as an All-American, Pitcovich stood in even more rarefied air after the race, earning the NCAA Elite 90 award for Division III women's cross country.

The Elite 90 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA's 90 championships.

Pitcovich boasts a cumulative 4.0 GPA in accounting and is the first female athlete at ONU to earn the Elite 90 award.

"I've definitely worked for it for four years, so I'm very excited," Pitcovich said.

Head coach Jason Maus described the award as a huge accomplishment for Pitcovich.

"She's the first woman in ONU history and only the fourth student-athlete in ONU history to get it," Maus said. "That's a prestigious award, and I'm really proud of her and her accomplishments as both a student and an athlete. She represents our program so well."

In the race, Pitcovich posted a time of 22:41 on the 6,000-meter course on a sunny afternoon with good course conditions.

She was in 90th place after one kilometer in 3:46 and was 112th in 11:03 after three kilometers. She was 144th in 15:02 at the 4K mark before moving up 15 spots to 129th in 18:59 at five kilometers en route to the 139th-place finish.

"It was very, very hard, but I made it," Pitcovich said. "Being here a second time is an achievement in and of itself, so I'm very happy to have had the chance to race."

Pitcovich also qualified for the NCAA Championships in 2019 as a sophomore, finishing 77th out of 280 runners with a time of 22:40.

Maus was proud of all Pitcovich has achieved despite not earning All-American status on Saturday.

"It's a big accomplishment to be here. No matter how many times you've been here or how much experience you have, it's tough to be successful at this level," he said. "She represents our university and our cross country program so well. By being here multiple times, she puts her name among the ONU greats."

Pitcovich qualified for the NCAA Championships as one of 70 individual at-large selections, who were the first seven student-athletes from each region who were not part of a qualifying team.

She entered Saturday's race as the runner-up at the Ohio Athletic Conference Championships and an All-Great Lakes Region selection. Her time of 22:08 at the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional Championships at Blue River Memorial Park in Shelbyville, Ind., is the fourth-fastest all-time at ONU for 6,000 meters.

This marks the 17th consecutive year that ONU cross country was represented at the NCAA Championships.

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