Women’s X-Country second at Conn. College Invitational

“Remember to start off easy; we’re not out to win today,” co-captain Paige McClanahan ’04 said to women’s cross-country in the huddle at the starting line, “Although that just might happen!” an excited first-year piped in. Indeed, Williams nearly did win the Connecticut College Invitational without even trying Saturday, finishing second in the17-team field, just 12 points behind first-place Trinity, 48 to 60.

“The race was perfect – just what we were looking for,” Head Coach Pete Farwell said after the meet. The women had been instructed to treat the race as a workout and run in packs, holding back on the first and third kilometers and racing the rest, in order to keep the pressures of racing off until the more important meets later in the season.

The strategy worked every way it was intended to: the women had fun on the course, eased back into race-mode, got a good workout in and saved enough energy for a strong finish. Several upper-class runners even came close to last year’s personal records, a testament to what a good summer of training combined with smart race tactics can do. The race also built team spirit. “It was a lot of fun to run together in packs,” Andrea Burke ’06 said. “There was a real sense of camaraderie out there.”

In addition to these accomplishments, the harriers also posted respectable times. Williams’ top seven runners each covered the 5k course in less than 20 minutes and finished in the first 30 of the 194-woman field. Caroline Cretti ’06 won the race by 11 seconds and established the course record at 18:23, while Jenn Campbell ’05 finished in seventh place in 18:56. Maya Kessler ’05 and Eve Besant ’04 were next for the Ephs, finishing in 16th and 17th place in 19:28 and 19:29, respectively. Not long after, co-captain Heather Lindenman ’04 and Michelle Rorke ’06 crossed the line together in 19:36, good for 19th and 20th places. Susie Theroux ’05 followed in 29th place with a time of 19:48.

Saturday’s race was an impressive debut for many of these upper-class women, several of whom were away from the racing circuit last year for various reasons. Lindenman was abroad in Kenya for the 2002 season, Besant and McClanahan each spent the majority of last fall cross-training because of injuries, Kessler raced infrequently and Rorke was held back by injuries for much of the track season. “We’re very excited to have all these women back again and ready to go this season,” Farwell said.

The rest of the team raced well also, including some top first-year runners. Lisa Davenport ’07 finished soon after Theroux, capturing 30th place with a time of 19:53. McClanahan followed in 31st in 20:07. Kaitlin Rees ’07 and Sara Morrissey ’07 came in 52nd (20:50) and 53rd (20:52), respectively, close behind Mary Iaculli ’06 who finished in 48th place in 20:47.

After the race the team was in great spirits (and it wasn’t only because they were headed to Six Flags in Springfield on the way home). Everyone enjoyed running the scenic course at Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford. A portion of the route followed the shore of Long Island Sound and the sweeping views of the water and fisherman on the rocks compensated for the wind.

The fact that there were virtually no hills (compared to the terrain of Williamstown and the surrounding area) was definitely a bonus for the team.

The first-years no doubt appreciated this after their inaugural race on Williams’ hilly home course at Mt. Greylock High School last Wednesday, in which the rookie Ephs defeated Deerfield Academy in a dual meet. In that race, Davenport, Morrissey and Rees worked together to pass the leader from Deerfield in the last mile and then cruised down the homestretch to finish together.

This weekend, the rest of the team will get its first chance of the year to race on the home course at the Purple Valley Classic. Thirteen teams will be there, including Messiah College of Grantham, Pennsylvania and Christopher Newport University, all the way from Newport News, Va. The Ephs, the defending national champions, will begin their race at 1:30 p.m.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *