Ephs 2nd at Twin Brooks Inv.

Flexibility and optimism on the part of the women’s cross country team turned what had the potential to be an unfortunate trip to the Twin Brook Invitational in Cumberland, Maine, Saturday into yet another success for the Ephs. Williams finished second to Middlebury, 51 to 74, just six points ahead of Amherst, who with a score of 80 was third in the field of 11 teams.

To begin, Williams ran without roughly a third of its runners. Many women took this meet off to recover from early season injuries, among them three of the previous two weeks’ top-seven: Michelle Rorke ’06, Eve Besant ’04 and Maya Kessler ’05. Captain Paige McClanahan ’04 and Mary Iaculli ’06 were out again this weekend as well.

In addition, a very long bus ride from Williamstown to Cumberland got the women to the meet with only 45 minutes before their race. Had the team not become lost warming up on the foggy and ill-marked course, 45 minutes would have been adequate, but by the time they found their way back, the other teams were on the starting line ready to go. That meant no time for drills, strides or last minute bathroom trips.

This was not the end of the day’s adversities. Soon after she broke away from the front pack to take the lead alone, top-Eph Caroline Cretti ’06 took a wrong turn. The motorized cart responsible for leading the runners the right way had broken down and the course officials failed to point Cretti in the right direction, resulting in a major detour of about 600 meters and costing her the lead.

Cretti took it all in stride though, and after the race was more amused with the situation than angry. The coaches too had a positive attitude about the mishap. “From the coach’s perspective, it was perfect training-wise,” Assistant Coach Yarrow Moench said. “We want Caroline to get a wide variety of race experience, and she handled this so well. We couldn’t have engineered it better.”

Despite the setback, Cretti finished the 6k course in fourth place in 22:59; incredibly, only 20 seconds behind winner Shauneen Garrahan of Amherst. Jenn Campbell ’05, always dependable, was second for Williams, taking seventh place overall with a time of 23:23. In an impressive season debut, Kali Moody ’05 was the Ephs’ third runner, coming in 19th in 24:06. Right behind her was Captian Heather Lindenman ’04, finishing 21st in 24:10, and soon after, the fifth and final scorer for Williams – Kaitlin Rees ’07, placing 23rd by clocking in at 24:19.

Susie Theroux ’05, racing with an injury, was Williams’ sixth runner, coming in 36th in 24:56. Next was Lisa Davenport ’07, in 40th place with a time of 25:01. Ten runners later came classmate Sara Morrissey ’07 in 25:23, 50th in the field of 134 women.

This was the season’s first 6k race for the Ephs. Last year, the NCAA changed its championship distance for Div. III from 5k to 6k (like Div. I and II), and now a few meets each season feature 6k courses. For the first-years, Saturday was their first attempt at this distance, and many women, though nervous at first, were surprised at how good they felt. “My legs definitely knew when I had passed the 5k mark, but the race went well overall and I felt good about it,” Laura Ellison ’07 said.

Megan Bruck ’07 also enjoyed racing an extra kilometer. “I felt like I had more time to settle in and relax,” she said. Bruck raced well Saturday, moving up significantly from the week before to place ninth for the Ephs, 55th overall, in 25:30. Emily Welsh ’05 finished 10 seconds later, in 59th place in 25:40 and was followed by a pack of first-years led by Diana Davis ’07, who came in 67th in 26:04. Ally Holmes ’07 and Laura Ellison ’07 finished together in 26:10, good for 71st and 72nd places. Andrea Burke ’06 was the Ephs’ 14th runner, finishing 81st in 26:34.

After the race, few were focused on the results and instead looked forward to pizza and a dip in the ocean on the famous coast of Maine. No one anticipated a high finish after nearly missing the race and being short so many runners. “I was absolutely shocked when they called us up to get our second-place plaque,” Captain Heather Lindenman ’04 said. “This just shows what a deep and strong team we have,” Head Coach Pete Farwell said. “If we can do this well under conditions like these, we are ready for anything.”

And the Ephs will definitely be ready to take on the alumni this Saturday at Mt. Greylock High School. After a tough week of training, they will be tired enough for a fair match up.