Women’s XC trumps NESCAC competition

Women’s cross country claimed the conference crown at the NESCAC Championships at Amherst on Saturday. The team won the title with a total of 34 points, besting rival Middlebury by eight points. The women had not won the NESCAC Championship since 2005. “[It was a] terrific race by our team as a whole, putting together their best individual and cumulative efforts of the season to upend a very strong Middlebury squad,” Head Coach Peter Farwell ’73 said.

The women raced under extreme conditions, with the course significantly altered by the previous week’s rain and snow.

Despite racing in low temperatures and over rough terrain, the women turned in a strong race. Chiara Del Piccolo ’14 earned the individual title, finishing first in a time of 21:58. Del Piccolo overtook the original frontrunner, Keri Lambert of Amherst, midway through the race, eventually finishing a full 29 seconds ahead of the Jeff. Del Piccolo’s time set a course record and laid a strong foundation for the rest of the team.

After a fantastic finishing kick, Olivia Delia ’12 finished in fifth place with a time of 22:58. Anna Spiers ’15 and Shayna Barbash ’14 finished close behind Delia. Spiers took seventh place, finishing in 23:05 and claiming the top finish for a rookie in the race. Barbash turned in a time of 23:06 to claim eighth. In total, Williams placed four women in the top 10.

Celeste Berg ’13 took 13th place, followed by Lauren Goldstein-Kral ’12 in 15th  and Alison Smith ’15 in 17th to complete the top seven for Williams. Brianne Mirecki ’14, Eirann Cohen ’15, Molly Malinowski ’15, Amelia Ortiz ’15 and Natalie Davis ’12 contributed stellar performances as well, finishing in 20th, 23rd, 28th, 40th and 54th place, respectively.

“It was a huge team effort, and Chiara had a great race and everyone behind her pulled through,” co-captain Elleree Erdos ’12 said.

One of the key contributing factors to the team’s overall victory was the amazing packing performed by the Williams women: Only 27 seconds passed between the finish of second runner Delia and seventh runner Smith. There was also only a 37-second difference between Smith and Cohen. Without this tremendous depth, a NESCAC championship would never have been possible.

The team also earned several individual awards. Del Piccolo earned NESCAC Outstanding Performer of the Week honors, She,Delia and Spiers were all awarded first team All-NESCAC honors. Barbash and Berg earned second team All-NESCAC honors.

Farwell was pleased with the team finish as well as the strong individual performances. “We ran a strong race across the board, continuing to further implement our positioning, pacing and kicking,” Farwell said. “With Chiara taking the individual title, Anna taking the top rookie and first-team All-Conference, the breakthrough races by Olivia and Celeste, plus a spread of only 27 seconds between our second and ninth finishers, we had a near perfect meet.”

Erdos thought the team executed its strategy well. “Coming in, we knew it was a toss-up between us and Middlebury,” Erdos said. “We went out conservatively and then really worked our way through throughout the race.”

The women will host the ECAC Championships on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Mount Greylock Regional High School.

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