Rookies lead women’s XC to 2nd

After last Saturday’s season opener at the Dartmouth Invitational, a second group of Ephs ran their first races of the season at Saturday’s Middlebury Invitational. The team placed second out of eight, bested only by Middlebury, whose top seven runners took the top seven places.

Strong performances by each of the Ephs’ 12 runners contributed to the squad’s overall success. Such results bode well for the depth of the team in later races, as many of the team’s more elite runners opened their seasons at the meet at Dartmouth. When the runners from the Dartmouth meet join forces with those who ran at Middlebury, the women will be able to race a dominant top seven backed by the rest of the team’s strong runners.

Head Coach Pete Farwell is extremely conscious of these early meets’ roles in later success. The runners for each meet are chosen to best achieve the team’s goals for the race. “This was a perfect meet for our next echelon of runners. There were eight teams at the meet and Middlebury is really strong, but the rest were teams we could contend with,” he said. “It was nice to have a new scoring group.”

This meet’s top seven runners were led by Leslie Blackshear ’14 in the first race of her college career and Mary Brunelli ’12, competing in her first race after an injury knocked her out of competition last year. Blackshear and Brunelli finished eighth and ninth out of 85 runners in the 5k course, coming in with times of 19:24.6 and 19:28.7, respectively.

Rookies formed the majority of the rest of the top seven, with Julieanne Fontana ‘14 finishing third for the team and in 21st place overall with a time of 20:59.5 and Kaleigh Kenny ’14 following close behind in 22nd place with a time of 21:01.7. Returning runner Emily McTague ’12 rounded out the scoring five, coming in at 25th with a time of 21:13.9. Louisa Lee ’14 and Kathleen Higgins ’14 rounded out the Ephs’ runners for the day.

Williams will host the Purple Valley Classic at the team’s home course at Mount Greylock High School on Saturday. The standard distance women’s 6k begins at 11:30 a.m., with an open 5k to follow.