Roberts advances to NCAA division III finals

By Elliot Tannenbaum
November 17, 2006

Cabrini College junior Carolyn Roberts, a three-time Pennsylvania Athletic Conferenc medalist, was one of only two Philadelphia-area natives to advance to the NCAA Division III national championships from the Mid-East Regionals, held Saturday at Waynesburg College.

Roberts, an Ambler resident with a 3.92 GPA, made all-Mid-East for the second time by finishing 11th in a field of 281, one spot ahead of Havertown native Karen Ziga, a senior at Franklin & Marshall. Twenty-one runners in all qualified for nationals, set for Nov. 18 in Mason, Ohio.

Cabrini had four runners in the men’s 8.000-meter race, led by junior Chris Sweeney (125th of 268) and sophomore WAYNE native Jason Walsh (167th).

Dickinson and Haverford colleges each qualified their top seven runners by finishing 1-2 in the team competition, but none are area natives. The top seven among all the other schools also advanced to nationals.

Roberts, who just missed out by finishing 18th as a freshman in 2004, covered the muddy 6,000-meter course in 24 minutes 8 seconds, four ticks faster than Ziga.

Roberts has overcome vasovagal syncope, a genetic blood-pressure disorder that often leaves her faint and lightheaded just rising from a chair. She’s in danger of passing out in any race she runs. In fact she detoured to a hospital on the way to a Sept. 8 meet in Allentown, missing the event.

Roberts, who led Gwynedd-Mercy Academy to a state track title, also overcame a summer-long bout with Lyme Disease to win two gold medals and two silvers in six previous races this year. On Oct. 28, running on a badly sprained ankle, she finished second to Paige Jablonski of Marywood at the PAC championships, adding a second straight silver to the bronze she won as a freshman.

Her ankle better after a two-week layoff, Roberts finished 12 seconds ahead of Jablonski at Mid-East Regionals, topping her for the third time in five meetings this fall. Jablonski failed to qualify for nationals, winding up 15th.

In her last 20 races, going back to October 2004, Roberts has won 13 medals (four gold, seven silver, two bronze) and two all-Region honors. She’s been PAC Runner of the Week three times, made two PAC All-Academic teams and earned the Inquirer’s All-Academic Performer of the Year award for 2005 in her sport.

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Elliot Tannenbaum

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