Women beat out Midd. for Purple Valley title

Even though they were “training through” this meet, the Ephwomen did not disappoint the large home crowd gathered at Mt. Greylock High School on Saturday for the Purple Valley Classic, narrowly defeating rival Middlebury for the win, 38 to 44. SUNY Geneseo took home the third place trophy, Messiah of Penn. placed fourth and RPI of Troy went home fifth out of the 11 teams represented.

Caroline Cretti ’06, on her own after the first mile, won the race by 43 seconds and finished just five seconds off the 5k course record (which she holds with Julia Bensen ’03) in 18:23. Jenn Campbell ’05 finished second for Williams and fourth overall in 19:33.

The key to Williams’ win was the tight pack of the Ephs’ third through fifth scorers: Michelle Rorke ’06, Captain Heather Lindenman ’04 and Eve Besant ’04. The trio claimed the tenth, 11th and 12th spots, clocking in at 19:55, 19:59 and 20:00, respectively, and tipped the balance in Williams’ favor when the race was looking like it could go either way after Middlebury’s top three runners placed second, fifth and sixth.

Competition, however, was not the focus for Saturday’s meet. “We weren’t looking for amazing performances today, although we certainly had some,” Head Coach Pete Farwell said. “We were using this meet mostly as a workout; focusing on getting out solidly and using the downhills as a time to press harder and pass some people.”

Although one may not have thought it from the team’s first place finish, the Ephs did not race at full speed. “It seemed like a lot of runners from other teams were anxious to start out fast, but our women looked really relaxed and strong,” Hayley Wynn ’06 said. This healthy attitude of not pushing too hard early in the season was also evident from the fact that several Ephs with nagging injuries, including Wynn, sat this meet out, taking care of themselves early on in order to be ready to go next week and for the more important meets later in the season.

Despite Friday’s heavy rains and the beating it had taken from the two previous men’s races, the course held up well, all things considered, with only a few pockets of hazardous mud. The weather held out too, though skies looked threatening at times, something that Williams fans, which this week included several of the team’s favorite alumni, professors and parents, no doubt appreciated. For the runners, however, rain might have been welcome relief from the intense humidity.

Breaking into Williams’ top seven Saturday was Kaitlin Rees ’07, finishing 16th and covering the course in 20:11, nearly 40 seconds faster than her 5k the week before, and this for a course on which most Ephs ran considerably slower times than they did last week at Connecticut College. Maya Kessler ’05 followed Rees in 19th place in 20:32, ensuring that each of Williams’ top seven runners finished in the top 20 in the field of 112 women.

In addition to Rees, other first-years also showed large improvements from last week, notably Diana Davis ’07 and Ally Holmes ’07. Each ran only a second slower on the hilly, muddy and slow Mt. Greylock course than she did the previous week, on terrain that was virtually flat.

Davis was 39th overall Saturday with a time of 21:26 and Holmes was 61st in 22:23. The majority of the first-years improved on their times for this course since the first time they raced on it against Deerfield a few weeks ago.

First-years Lisa Davenport ’07 and Sara Morrissey ’07 also performed impressively, finishing eighth and ninth for the Ephs, in 20:48 (26th) and 21:00 (31st), respectively. Danner Hickman ’05 was not far behind them, placing 33rd in 21:09.

Davis was the next Eph to finish, followed by Emily Welsh ’05, whose time of 21:55 put her in 51st place. Megan Bruck ’07 came next in 22:05, good for 54th place, followed shortly by Liz Gress ’06 in 56th place with a time of 22:08. Next came Holmes, and one second later, Andrea Burke ’06, in 62nd place in 22:24.

The next pack of Ephs came through a minute later lead by Lisetta Shah ’06, who finished in 23:26 in 87th place. Sara Jablonski ’07 followed her in 89th place in 23:37. Sarah Connell ’06 was next (94th, 24:46), followed by Suzanne Geer ’07 (97th, 25:07). In her first official race for Williams, Erin Weekly ’06 came in 98th in 25:13. Lizzie Koltai ’07 was not far behind, finishing 103rd in 25:29.

Next week the Ephs are looking forward to an overnight trip to Cumberland, ME, for an invitational hosted by Bates. They will return to Mt. Greylock the following weekend for the much-anticipated Alumni Meet.