Amidst a field of 39 teams that came from all over the Northeast, the women’s cross country team showed how truly strong they are with an amazing third place finish at the ECAC Championships in Grafton, Massachusetts.
Leading the way for Williams and earning All-ECAC Honors (top 15) was tri-captain and the team’s comeback kid, Amy MacDonald ’99, ninth in 19:32. This was her best time of the season despite the difficult course.
The second runner for Williams who also earned All-ECAC honors was fellow senior Julie Cantatore. Cantatore, who was hampered by injury earlier in the season, made her presence felt with a fourteenth place finish in 19:36. Rounding out the top six runners were Maywa Montengro ’01, twenty-second in 19:49, First-Year phenom Terri O’Brien, twenty-fifth in 19:58, Sandra DiPillo ’01, twenty-sixth in 19:59, and Emily Small ’00, fortieth in 20:24.
The winner of the race was Barbara Swallow of Springfield in 18:24. Plattsburgh won the team competition with 28 points, Middlebury was second with 84 points, and Williams was third with 92 points.
The race was held at the Tufts University Vet School Campus in Grafton. The course was primarily run around rolling cornfields. The first mile was quite challenging with many long gradual uphills that may have drained some of the runners.
“I definitely think that we went through that first mile too fast, which may have hurt us later in the race,” said O’Brien.
The second mile consisted of a long gradual down hill, a flat portion adjacent to train tracks, and a short, yet painful 45 degree hill. The third mile was more gradual uphills, a loop through the woods, and a windy finish in the open cornfields.
What made the third place finish so incredible is that Williams did not race its top six runners, but rather the next seven. These seven runners defeated the top seven from strong teams like Springfield College.
“This race was a true testament as to how strong our team is. The fact that our second seven can defeat the top seven from other schools shows how deep this team is with talent,” said Head Coach Kristen Morwick.
However, losing to Middlebury did leave a slight bitterness in the mouth for the team because Middlebury also raced their sixth through thirteenth runners. This was the third loss the Middlebury has dealt Williams this season which included last week’s NESCAC Championship. Once again, it was close with Middlebury packing its runners together like last week, taking places 11, 16, 18, 19, 20 (total of 84) while Williams scored runners in 9, 14, 22, 25, and 26 (total of 92).
“They are a great team, no argument there. It is just frustrating to be just barely beaten every time. But despite that, we were definitely psyched about our third place finish here,” said MacDonald.
However, Williams will get another crack at them next week when the top seven runners from each team face off at the New England Division III NCAA Qualifier in Wellseley, MA.