Erzsebet Nagy’s eyes lit up when she saw where the NCAA regional championship meet would be held. Nagy and her Middlebury College teammates will compete at the University of Southern Maine, in Gorham.

Nagy, a Lawrence High School graduate, would be coming home.

“I’m so excited,” Nagy said.

A freshman on the Middlebury College women’s cross country team, Nagy has enjoyed a fantastic debut season. Last weekend, the Panthers won their fifth consecutive ECAC championship. Last week, Nagy was named the New England Small College Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year, and also earned first team all-NESCAC honors.

Nagy placed second at the conference meet in Waterford, Conn. on Nov. 2, with a time of 21 minutes, 27.7 seconds in the 6K race to help Middlebury win its 12th conference title.

“I definitely made the right decision, coming to Middlebury,” Nagy said. “I was just really excited to be a part of this team.”

A good showing this weekend’s regional meet would earn the Panthers a spot at the NCAA Division III championship meet, on Nov. 23 in Hanover, Ind.

Seven members of the team were named to the NESCAC All-Conference squad.

“There’s no inter-team rivalry,” Nagy said. “Everyone is supportive.”

Nagy’s strong season began immediately, when the Panthers hosted their season-opening Aldrich Invitational meet. Nagy placed third in the 5K race with a time of 18:32, four seconds behind the winner, her teammate Alison Maxwell.

“My mom came to the meet, and all my friends at Middlebury were there,” Nagy said.

Nagy won the Class A girls cross country title last season as a senior at Lawrence. The biggest adjustment Nagy faced jumping from high school to college competition was the training. The Panthers recently changed up their workouts, so their hard days are back-to-back and allow for tapering before a meet. Nagy and her teammates do speed work and repeats up Chipman Hill, a trail system in Middlebury near campus.

“Nicole (Wilkerson, Middlebury’s cross country coach) really knows what she’s doing,” Nagy said.

Nagy is one of nine first-year runners on the Panthers. Although the team will graduate some talented runners, the Panthers will return five all-conference athletes, including Nagy. Her future, as well as her team’s, looks good.

“I love this team,” Nagy said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242tlazarczyk@centralmaine.comTwitter: @TLazarczykMTM