Contact: Matthew Hart
LA CROSSE, Wis. – Keri Lambert '13 capped her decorated collegiate running career with a third-place, All-America performance in the 3,000-meter steeplechase finals on Saturday, completing the efforts of the Amherst College women's track and field team at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships hosted by the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
The 2012 national champion in the event, Lambert entered this year's final with the top seed time in the 14-person field, but she would have needed a new personal record to keep the crown from SUNY Geneseo senior Alyssa Smith, who ran an outstanding race and pulled away late to win in 10:17.38.
After staying behind the leaders for much of the eight-lap event, Wartburg's Sammi Bruett used a big final kick to edge Lambert for second, crossing in 10:26.60. The Amherst senior finished in 10:27.14, well ahead of fourth-place Michaela Freeby of Williamette (10:33.34).
It was Lambert who set the pace early, keeping just ahead of Smith during the opening laps with Freeby staying close in third. Smith made her move near the midway point of the race, however, overtaking Lambert before Freeby pulled ahead into second with three laps remaining. The Wartburg junior fell during her final water jump, however, giving Lambert an opening for silver, but Bruett surged ahead of the Jeff co-captain on the final straightaway.
The All-American award marks the seventh of Lambert's remarkable career at Amherst, spanning cross country, indoor, and outdoor track. Also finishing third at cross country nationals in the fall, she placed sixth in the 5,000 meters at the indoor championships in March while also helping the Distance Medley Relay take eighth. Her stellar senior campaign followed a breakout junior year which featured All-America honors in cross country and the outdoor 5k along with her steeplechase title.
Lambert owned the nation's 13th-lowest time in the 5,000 entering this year's outdoor championships but did not compete in the event in order to return to campus in time for Sunday's commencement exercises.
Sarah Daly '13 also could have competed in the 5k but did not enter the field, instead capping her career with a seventh-place, All-America effort in the 10,000 meters on Thursday. The two distance runners' efforts gave Amherst eight team points, which tied for 33rd place out of 77 scoring programs. Wartburg (46) edged Wisconsin-Oshkosh (43) for the women's team title, while host UW-La Crosse (66) won the men's crown over UW-Eau Claire (64).
Naomi Bates '14 was the Jeffs' third and final competitor at the championship, placing 13th in the long jump on Thursday. Bates will look to return to her third straight nationals in 2014 after the team bids farewell to current seniors Rebecca Alizzi, Lauren Almeida, Daly, Lambert, Kristen Moulton, Jessica Mueller, Jamila Odeh, and Elodie Reed.
THURSDAY RECAP (incl. podcast with Bates, Daly, Lambert and coaches)