UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Christine Bendzinski finished 17th in a field of 224 runners to lead the Bucknell women’s cross country team to a ninth place finish in a loaded field of 19 teams Friday at the Penn State Nationals at Penn State Blue/White Golf Courses, the host site for the 2016 Mid-Atlantic Regional.

The defending Patriot League champs competed against several nationally and regionally ranked teams in the field. Bucknell tallied a final score of 223, finishing just two points behind William & Mary (221), who received votes in the latest National Poll. The Bison finished ahead of ACC programs Pittsburgh, the seventh-ranked team in the Mid-Atlantic region, and Virginia Tech, the fourth-ranked team in the Southeast region, while finishing ahead of Patriot League foe Lehigh.

No. 8 Penn State won the team title with a score of 47, followed by No. 25 Ole Miss (94) and No. 14 Oklahoma State (114).

Bendzinski was the first Bucknell runner to cross the line in the 6k race, completing the course in 20:48. The race was won by Penn State’s Tessa Barrett, who finished in 20:11. The Nittany Lions claimed the top three spots in the individual standings.

Kate Scott finished four spots behind Bendzinski with a time of 20:51. Sarah Chandler finished 37th in 21:11, giving Bucknell three runners in the top 40.

Colleen Buckley, who led the way for the Bison at Lehigh’s Paul Short Run, finished 66th, followed by Elizabeth Sheprow (84th). Anna Chiodo-Ortiz (89th) and Lauren Gronbeck (93rd), as each Bucknell runner finished in the top half of the field.

“These type of races with a lot of great teams causes separation and we saw it today, said head coach Kevin Donner. “Although there was some inconsistency, I was pleased with how many of our runners handled the intensity and we have another level in us to perform well at regionals one month from today.”

Bucknell, the seventh-ranked team in the Mid-Atlantic region, will send a group of runners to Easton to compete at the Leopard Invitational, hosted by Lafayette at Metzgar Fields Athletic Complex, the site of the 2016 Patriot League Cross Country Championships.