For the seventh consecutive year, the Williams women were the champions at their annual cross country invitational, the Purple Valley Classic, held Saturday at Mt. Greylock high school.
The Ephs defeated the top-seeded Middlebury team, the Div. III national champion for the past two years. Middlebury placed third with 57 points, behind SUNY Geneseo with 51. Williams’ winning score was 41.
Captain Julia Bensen ’03 won the race, beating Michela Adrian of Middlebury in an exciting duel for the finish line. Both women ran the hilly 5K course in 18:35. Caroline Cretti ’06 who had been with Bensen and Adrian until the final stretch, placed third in 18:38.
Jenn Campbell ’05 was fifth (18:59), Eve Besant ’04 was seventh (19:07) and Katie Marsh ’05 completed Williams’ scoring five in 25th place with a time of 20:10; in total, 164 women finished the race.
Needless to say, Head Coach Pete Farwell was proud. He did have one criticism: “My one complaint is that they keep running faster than I tell them to.”
The race plan for Saturday was to run in packs, take the first mile conservatively, and move up from there. The Ephs at least took the first part of the strategy to heart; only 32 seconds separated Bensen and Besant, the Ephs’ first and fourth runners.
Williams’ top four secured the first, third, fifth and seventh place spots, finishing ahead of all Geneseo and Middlebury runners but two.
Williams’ home course has never been considered a fast one, but the Ephs posted very respectable times, especially given the hot and humid conditions and a strenuous week of training that did not allow the Harriers much time to recover before Saturday.
Bensen’s time was nearly 30 seconds faster than her time in the same race last year, and Campbell was 17 seconds faster than last year.
On all levels the Ephs showed improvement. Kali Moody ’05, Susie Theroux ’05 and Sarah Iams ’04 all had breakthrough performances.
The first-years also ran well at their inaugural race on the home course, and they enjoyed themselves too. “It was really exciting to see the team do so well, especially at our first home meet with such great competition,” Dagmara Marston ’06 said.
The night before the meet was the annual first-year talent show for both the men’s and women’s teams.
“It was a great way to psych up for the meet,” Danner Hickman ’05 said. Acts ranged from dancing to “Barbie Girl” to Chubby Bunny to an episode of “Master P’s Theatre,” all of which were thoroughly enjoyed.
Next Saturday, the Ephs will race in Grafton at the Tufts Invitational. It will be their first chance this year to try out the new 6K distance and should provide a worthy challenge for the runners.