Women’s XC takes 5th at NCAAs

Women’s cross country had a spectacular showing at the NCAA Div. III championships on Nov. 20. After coming in second at the home regional qualifier on Nov. 13, the harriers flew to Wartburg, Iowa, to take on the top Div. III competition from across the nation, coming in fifth out of 32.

Jennifer Gossels ’13, just named USTFCCCA New England Athlete of the Year, led the Ephs’ heroic charge. After starting with the lead pack, she remained in second or third place for all 6000 meters, finally finishing second in 21:00.8 and earning All-American status. Wendy Pavlus from St. Lawrence University came in first place 11 seconds ahead of the Eph.

“Jennifer was out of this world with an incredible race, recording the second-highest placing for a Williams cross country runner in the national meet and second best 6k time ever for a Williams racer,” Head Coach Pete Farwell said. “Fifth of the 32 teams who competed … is a great showing, and we really challenged the top teams in the meet.”

Chiara Del Piccolo ’14 and Lauren Goldstein-Kral ’12 finished shortly after Gossels, in 55th and 56th places and times of 22:02 and 22:04, respectively. Celeste Berg ’13, placing 60th with a time of 22:22, and co-captain KK Durante ’11, placing 99th with a time of 22:45, rounded out the top five. Co-captain Tina Meade ’11 and Annie Dear ’13 made up the rest of the team’s top seven racing squad.

“It was a great team effort and showing, with Lauren and Celeste running strong again, Chiara making another leap up, KK racing particularly tough as our crucial fifth scorer and Tina doing quite well despite her foot injury,” Farwell said. “Annie tried gallantly but succumbed to recent illness.”

Though the day was cold, the course was flat and the competition was fierce. The Ephs started the race in the furthest box to the right, which allowed them a clear path to get out and establish their positions, though it did add a little distance to their race.

“It was a quick pace, but all handled that well, pushing throughout and kicking in hard,” Farwell said.

Each of the top six runners ran personal bests, contributing to their impressive 230-point total score. Middlebury came in first place with 185 points, though none of their harriers earned All-American status.

This meet marked the end of the 2010 cross country racing season. The fifth place finish and personal bests demonstrate the effectiveness of the season’s training, and the depth and youth of this year’s team bodes well for future success.

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