Women’s cross country finishes second out of 24 schools at NCAA Div. III championship

Women’s cross-country placed second in the country among 24 schools at the 2001 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championship in Rock Island, Ill. on Nov. 18. Jenn Campbell ’05 and co-captain Julia Bensen ’03 established themselves among the leaders early in the race and stayed up front, Campbell finishing third in 17:13 and Bensen sixth in 17:25. Both earned NCAA all-American honors.

Three Middlebury College women garnered all-American laurels, as well; all five of the team’s scoring members placed ahead of Williams third harrier. Middlebury won the national title with 98 points, gapping Williams by a 68-point margin. Moravian College was third with 183 points.

Dana Boyle of the University of Puget Sound, Maggie Hanson of Hamilton College and Mary Proulx of Keene State were out fast and far forward before the field of 213 runners had covered 800 meters. Campbell and Bensen stayed within a small, flexible pack of women some ten seconds behind the three frontrunners.

By the time the racers had covered two-and-a-half miles, however, Boyle and Hanson had increased their lead to more than 20 seconds on the third place and the secondary group itself had split into two loose knots. Campbell and Heidi Wolfsberger of Moravian College reeled in Proulx, who had fallen off her earlier pace, and left her behind. Bensen was in the second of the two knots, contending with Michaela Adrian of Middlebury and Maura Danahy of Conn. College.

In the final fairway switchback of the course, the knots suddenly constricted and the order of finish among the top ten became any fan’s guess. With 200 meters left, Boyle began to churn away from Hanson as though the Hamilton junior were standing still ? as, in fact, she nearly was. Hanson lurched in a wide zig-zag down the last straightaway and then dropped a few meters short of the line.

Wolfsberger and Campbell flew by, kicking away from oncoming Proulx and Melissa White of SUNY Geneseo. Bensen arrived 12 seconds later, having broken from Adrian, Danahy and others at the top of the hill. Hanson managed to walk across the finish just a step ahead of Adrian to hold onto ninth place overall.

Eve Besant ’04 was Williams next finisher, third for the team in 61st, running 18:17. She and co-captain Katie Sharff ’02 paced through much of the race together ? Sharff often a few seconds back from Besant ? and, indeed, ended up three seconds apart. Sharff took 70th in 18:21. Jonnie Vasse ’02 had been up with Besant and Sharff through the early sections of the race and kept herself close in the later stages, placing 87th in 18:29 to complete the five scoring Ephwomen. Paige McClanahan ’04 finished 122nd in 18:46, sixth for Williams, and Ann Schorling ’03 crossed 172nd in 19:21, two places ahead of Middlebury’s seventh.

This is the second consecutive year that Williams has finished second to Middlebury at the national championship; next year the women will have a chance to test their rivals for the title at St. Olaf College in Minnesota.