Women’s cross country hosted and topped the field at the annual Purple Valley Classic last weekend. The invitational is one of the most competitive early season meets in this region, with 21 colleges competing in the women’s varsity race. Among the competitors were three of the top 10 nationally-ranked Div. III teams, including No. 1 ranked MIT as well as rival Amherst. The Ephs did not disappoint, pulling off a strategic victory on their home turf with 78 points. MIT took second with 83 points, with Middlebury racing to third with 87 points.
The weather was perfect for racing, with the temperature reaching the mid-70s and a cool breeze in the air. The varsity women’s 6k was the third and final race of the day at the Ephs’ home track, Mount Greylock Regional High School. Against so many impressive competitors, the Ephs were challenged both individually and as a team on their hilly home course.
The women ran in packs and demonstrated their depth as a team with the top seven finishing within 52 seconds of each other; the top 10 all crossed the finish line within 1:25 of each other. Adrienne Strait ’15 and co-captain Brianne Mirecki ’14 led the women, both finishing in 22:54 to end in 10th and 11th place, respectively. Amelia Ortiz ’15 (23:03) and Kaleigh Kenny ’14 (23:04) came down the home stretch together, finishing in 15th and 16th, respectively. Shayna Barbash ’14 rounded out the last of the scorers, finishing in 26th with a time of 23:22. The finish was tight, with the top three teams within nine points of each other and 216 total racers competing on the course.
Despite the weekend’s strong finish, Williams has not set its top runners, and is looking to take advantage of a deep squad this season. “Our top seven will be shifting quite a bit throughout the season, as we have so many runners capable of scoring for the team and all of comparably high ability,” Head Coach Pete Farwell ’73 said.
The race for the individual title was also extremely tight. Four of the top nine nationally-ranked individuals competed, including Amherst’s Keri Lambert, the defending national champion, and Middlebury’s Addie Tousley, last year’s runner-up at Nationals. Lambert held a strong lead for most of the race, but Tousley out-kicked her in the last 200 meters around the grass track to the finish line. Tousley won in 21:50 with Lambert just five seconds behind in 21:55, topping her winning time from last year by five seconds.
Farwell was pleased with the women’s effort, though he expects to see even greater progress in the coming weeks. “We coaches didn’t expect victories [last] weekend, as we’ve been giving tough workouts the past few weeks and know we have lots of improvement still ahead,” he said.
Williams cross country will celebrate its 100th anniversary this weekend with its alumni race, which will be held at Mount Greylock Regional High School. Competition will begin at 12:30 p.m.