Women’s XC rivals Div. I foes

The sun beat down on thousands of the country’s most elite distance runners last Saturday at the 38th annual Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh in Bethlehem, Penn. Among these runners were 10 of the top runners in collegiate women’s cross country. Williams raced in the most competitive Gold Division against Div. I powerhouses like Georgetown, who came in first with 112 points, and Dartmouth, who secured second place with 125 points. The Ephs placed 27th overall with 788 points and were second among the Div. III schools, just behind defending national champion Johns Hopkins, who tied for 14th place with 445 points.

“It’s incredible to run with these top Div. I teams,” Head Coach Pete Farwell ’73 said. “The winner was an Olympian – one of the best runners in the whole country, so it’s just exciting to be in that kind of meet.”

The day began with Sophie Chatas ’16 and Kathryn McNaughton ’16 both beating their personal bests by over 20 seconds, running 23:53 and 24:01, respectively in the open 6k race. The runners showed impressive poise, navigating together through the enormous field and pacing smartly.

As the temperature and humidity rose, the varsity women lined up, dousing themselves with cold water to combat the blazing heat. The plan was to run conservatively for the first two miles and then push the pace and move up in the second half of the race. Shayna Barbash ’14 had a stunning breakout race, opening with a 5:34 mile and staying strong to finish with a time of 21:51. Barbash was 100th overall in the race and first across the line for the Ephs. Next in was Kaleigh Kenny ’14, who stoically pushed through a painful race and finished 133rd in 22:07. Next was a formidable pack of Lacey Serletti ’16, who finished in 22:28, co-captain Brianne Mirecki ’14, who ran a 22:30, and Hannah Cole ’17, who completed the course in 22:33. Emma Zehner ’17 ran a stunning 6k debut in 22:57, followed by strong performances from Alison Smith ’15 in 23:09, Amelia Ortiz ’15 in 23:23, Meg Richardson ’16 in 23:34 and Maggie Peard ’17, also in her first 6k, running a 23:54.

“I thought that it was a really good race – good prep for Nationals,” Mirecki said. “It was really crowded, but that was awesome because there was always someone to pass.”

Thanks to solid training and a good race plan, the Ephs were sweaty but safe and healthy when they crossed the finish line. Many other runners, however, collapsed from the heat during the race. Local police called off the later races as nearby hospitals were too full of runners suffering from heat to accommodate more patients.

“It was great for our team that everybody made it through without any heat-related illnesses,” Assistant Coach Lance Harden said. “Everybody paced smartly. Everybody ran pretty solidly, so it was a fun trip.”

The group that competed at the Paul Short Invitational will focus on training for the next two weeks, taking a break from competition until the Little Three meet on Oct. 19 at Wesleyan. The other members of the women’s squad head to the Westfield Invitational in Westfield, Mass., on Saturday.

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