Women’s XC claims 2nd overall at ECACs

Women’s cross country cruised into second place this Saturday at the Div. III ECAC Cross Country Championships in Bristol, R.I. The second seven ran a smart, aggressive race against many schools’ top seven runners, demonstrating the team’s depth with their score of 72 points. Only Middlebury scored lower, finishing six runners in the top 10 for a score of 21 points and first place. Amherst took third.

Working her way forward as the race progressed despite the difficulty in passing competitors on the fast flat course’s narrow trails, rookie Leslie Blackshear ’14 broke up the front Middlebury pack, coming in sixth place with a time of 22:51.49. Emily Barreca ’14 came in next for the Ephs, earning 14th place overall with a time of 23:14.42. Running the best 6k of her college career, Ceci Davis-Hayes ’11 came in just behind her teammate in 16th place overall with a time of 23:17.29, followed by Olivia Delia ’12 in 17th place, who finished in 23:22.19.

For each of Williams’ top four runners, however, Amherst had an answer: After four runners from each team had finished, the Jeffs were leading the Ephs 52 to 53. Williams’ fifth runner needed to outrace the Amherst runner in her equivalent position if the Ephs were going to overcome their initial deficit.

Natalie Davis ’12 ran to a decisive 19th place finish in 23:30.33, fitting the bill and propelling her team above Amherst. Brianne Mirecki ’14 reinforced the team’s position, coming in right behind Davis in 20th place with a time of 23:35.95.

The 21st place runner turned out to be Amherst’s fifth, rendering Mirecki’s fast finish not only fortunate but necessary; if the Jeff had not been displaced by Mirecki’s kick, then the Ephs and the Jeffs would have tied. Williams edged out Amherst by one point, scoring 72 points to Amherst’s 73.

Elleree Erdos ’12 finished soon after, in 30th place with a time of 24:09.05. NESCAC teams dominated the competition, as only eight of the top 30 runners did not attend a NESCAC school. All but three of the top 21 runners attend Williams, Amherst or Middlebury.

Though the top seven runners did not race this weekend in preparation for their crucial NCAA New England Regional Qualifier race this weekend, Saturday’s race still served, as Head Coach Pete Farwell called it, as “a springboard to regionals.” The second seven’s impressive finish offers a reaffirmation of the success of the season’s training. “It lets us know that peaking is working,” Farwell said. As they begin to taper this week for next week’s regional meet, which offers the opportunity to qualify for the National Championships, held this year at Iowa’s Wartburg College on Nov. 20, the women will be able to derive additional confidence from their teammates’ success.

On Saturday, Williams will host its final home meet of the season at Mount Greylock High School. The NCAA Div. III New England Regional Cross Country Championships will kick off at 11 a.m. with the men’s 8k. After the men’s race, the top seven women will race at 12 p.m. in hopes of qualifying for the National Championships.