Women’s cross country finishes 2nd at Purple Valley Classic

Multiple home sports events accompanied the festivities surrounding Convocation last weekend, including the Purple Valley Classic cross country meet on Saturday, hosted annually at Mt. Greylock High School. Williams placed second in a 19-team field, tallying 76 points and edged out only by Middlebury with 57 points. Runners represented a wide variety of opposition, from fellow NESCAC schools Middlebury, Amherst, Colby, Tufts and Conn. College; Div. III rivals MIT, Wellesley, Keene State, University of Scranton, Springfield, Westfield State University and Babson; as well as Div. II competitor St. Rose and Div. I’s Johns Hopkins and Fordham. Johns Hopkins, MIT and Amherst placed third, fourth and fifth, respectively. In the freshman/JV 5k, Williams came in third place with 74 points, behind Amherst in first with 26 points and just behind MIT, which came in two points ahead of the women at 72.

Saturday’s race not only featured an outstanding team performance by the Williams women, but many superlative individual performances as well. Jennifer Gossels ’13 won the varsity 6k in a blistering time of 22:17, while classmate Annie Dear ’13 finished close behind in third with a time of 22:20. A group of rookies running the first 6k races of their college careers rounded out the top five in a tight pack: Leslie Blackshear ’14 and Olivia Fay ’14 finished in 22nd and 23rd place, with times of 23:19 and 23:22, and Chiara Del Piccolo ’14 crossed the line in 23:28 for a 27th place finish. Co-captain KK Durante ’11 and Emily Barreca ’14 were runners six and seven, coming in 29th and 33rd place, respectively.

Head Coach Pete Farwell was very pleased with the varsity team’s performance. “I think we paced well,” he said. “People went out harder because of the hard competition but then were able to relax where they were, particularly Jen [Gossels] and Annie [Dear] with the top pack. The first-year group was also very impressive. Overall, we’re putting a really good team together at this point in the season.”

Co-captain Tina Meade ’11 also commented on the team’s performances at this early point in the season. “There were a lot of great races on their own, but especially considering how early it is, they bode very well for the rest of the season,” she said.

The Ephs finished four runners in the top 20 in the 5k, with rookie Kaleigh Kenny ‘14 earning a t-shirt with her sixth place finish. Julieanne Fontana ’14 was the next Williams finisher, coming in 15th place with a time of 21:36, followed by Emily McTague ’12 in 18th place and Louisa Lee ’14 in 19th.

“It was great to see most of the team racing for the first time. I’m excited to see what the next few weeks will bring,” Assistant Coach Erica Clausen said.

The women will have a weekend off before running at the New England Div. I Championship in Boston on Oct. 9. The Purple Valley Classic marks one of the season’s three home meets. The next is the Plansky Invitational on Oct. 16.