Women’s cross country defends NESCAC title at Bowdoin

No. 3 women’s cross country defended its conference title at Bowdoin last Saturday, where Williams topped the field to claim its second straight NESCAC title.

Bowdoin’s course is famously flat, and this, in conjunction with runners peaking in their postseason meets, was a formula for fast times. Amherst’s Keri Lambert distanced herself from the rest of the pack throughout the race, crossing the line in 20:33 at an average clip of 5:29 minutes per mile. Lambert finished 47 seconds ahead of runner-up Addie Tousley of Middlebury, who crossed the finish line in 21:20.

Three Eph harriers came in hot on the trail of the top two finishers. Kaleigh Kenny ’14 finished in third with a time of 21:37, while co-captain Brianne Mirecki ’14 took fourth in 21:47 and Adrienne Strait ’15 came in fifth in 21:50. Each of these three Ephs set a personal record and broke the 22-minute barrier for the first time in their respective careers.

Head Coach Pete Farwell ’73 was thrilled with the women’s performance and noted that the team has improved markedly from its still-strong performance at NESCACs last season.

The rest of the women performed just as spectacularly. Six Ephs finished within 16 seconds of each other, demonstrating the team’s unrivaled depth. Shayna Barbash ’14 finished in 15th with a time of 22:15; Alison Smith ’15 rounded out the top five scorers in 18th, crossing the line in 22:24; and Eirann Cohen ’15 followed up in 19th at 22:27. Both Smith and Cohen had amazing comeback races after returning from nagging injuries. Co-captain Celeste Berg ’13, the varsity team’s sole senior, crossed the line in 22:27 to take 21st, while Amelia Ortiz ’15 in 22nd and Louisa Lee ’14 in 25th completed the pack in 22:28 and 22:31, respectively.

With six racers placing within the top 20 finishers, Williams turned in a phenomenal team score of 45 points, good enough to claim the title. Middlebury followed Williams in second with 71 points, and third-place Amherst totaled 107 points.

Last weekend’s victory is an indicator of success to come as the women head into postseason racing. “This is a tremendous win for our team,” Farwell said. “These women have trained diligently and with great spirit all summer and fall and worked extremely well together to form a cohesive pack that has risen to every occasion. We are truly looking forward to the peak season ahead.”

Williams will host the 2012 ECAC Championship on Saturday at Mount Greylock Regional High School. The “second seven” runners (those ranked eighth through 14th on the squad) will challenge for the win among 50 teams to complete in the season’s conclusion. The top seven will train through this weekend to prepare for the Div. III New England’s on Nov. 10 at Westfield State.

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