With #1 and #2 out still out of the lineup, the question for the women’s cross country team continues to be who’s going to step up.
As in the first few weeks of the season, the question was resoundingly answered again Saturday.
Racing with only four of the team’s top seven runners, the Ephs’ deep and ever-changing top five ran past its competition at the Babson Invitational. The Ephwomen, currently ranked seventh nationally in D-III, edged out Brandeis and Amherst, tied for 20th in the country, to take the race title on a flat and fast course.
“It was a huge race with 39 teams, so the start was really crowded and we got out pretty slowly,” said Rebecca Atkinson ’00, who paced the Ephs with her 10th place finish. “But everyone moved up throughout the race and we really came from behind to win.”
“We planned to be low-key and go out conservatively, which [the runners] did,” said Head Coach Kristen Morwick. “But all felt really good and had great finishes. We did not plan to win the meet and were pleasantly surprised, considering who we left home.”
Gone were top runners Lauren Krisko ’00, Courtney Bennigson ’01, Melody Scheefer ’03 and Katie Sharff ’02, but the rest of the team that was present showed why Williams has such a successful program every year.
“We’ve got a really strong team this year,” Atkinson said. “It’s really exciting to be practicing with such a large group of fast runners.”
The Ephs finished with four in the top 15, led by Atkinson, who ran an 18:38 on the five kilometer course. Only three seconds behind Atkinson were Jonnifer Vasse ’02, whose 18:41 landed her 11th and Lauren Wiener ’01, who took 12th place with an 18:42.
Tri-captain Tara Crawley ’00 ran an 18:48, good enough for 15th, while tri-captain Deb Frisone’s ’00 19:33 landed her in 40th place.
“Courtney Bennigson and Lauren Krisko will return either this week or next,” Morwick said. “They were our 1 and 2 runners last season, and Krisko is by far our fastest returning 5k runner from track (going to nationals this past spring in the 5k running 17:49). Both Lauren and Courtney have not raced yet this season due to summer injury for Lauren and the world triathlon championships for Courtney. With those two in the line-up, our team’s potential increases considerably.”
The five Williams runners combined for a team score of 88, just beating out Brandeis (91) and Amherst (100). Springfield’s Barbara Swallow won the race in a time of 17:41.
Others competing for the Ephs were Sandra Dipillo ’01 (45th, 19:35) and Julia Bensen ’03 (83rd, 20:23).
“I was very pleased with how they ran, and for where we are in the season, they posted some pretty quick times,” Morwick said.
This weekend the Ephwomen will host the Fall Foliage Frolic at the Mt. Greylock High School, beginning at 1:00 p.m. The following weekend, Williams will try to defend its D-III title at New Englands.