Women’s cross country captures 1st ECAC title since ’08

Last Saturday, women’s cross-country clinched the ECAC Championship hosted by Westfield State, winning the meet for the first time since 2008. Facing off against 56 other East Coast Div. III teams, Williams won with 48 points, ahead of runner-up University of New England with 60 points, and third-place Middlebury with 85 points.
The Ephs raced the members of their “second seven,” and their outstanding performance is a testament to the team’s depth among both the first-years and upperclassmen.

The first racer to cross the finish line in a dramatic finish to the wire was Williams’ very own Rebecca Delacruz-Gunderson ’18 in 22:15.27. Delacruz-Gunderson unleashed a fierce sprint around the final bend of the course to defeat second-place Tiana Thomas of the University of New England, who finished in 22:15.63.

Once the gun fired, the women made moves quickly, grouping almost immediately into two separate packs and cutting their way through the huge field of 338 total finishers.

The first pack was led by co-captain Anna Spiers ’15, who could not help but grin with pleasure as she passed by packs of cheering teammates. Also in that first pack were Eriann Cohen ’15, Michelle Buncke ’17 and Delacruz-Gunderson. They stuck together and pushed each other throughout the course, thriving off of teamwork rather than competing against or constraining each other. Spiers was the next Eph to cross the finish line and was fifth overall with a big seasonal personal record of 22:20.59. Buncke was third for the Ephs and 11th overall in a time of 22:47.62.

Moving up significantly from the second solid pack of Williams runners, Meg Richardson ’16 placed 14th overall with a time of 22:57.58. Cohen battled her way to the finish line with a time of 23:04.86, even after suffering a fall in the course. The remainders of the second pack of Williams’ runners included Maggie Peard ’17, finishing in 23:06.24, and co-captain Amelia Ortiz ’15, close behind Peard in 23:08.58.

Delacruz-Gunderson, Spiers, Buncke and Richardson all received All-ECAC honors for placing within the top 15 in the race. Next weekend, the Ephs will get to remain at home one last time for the NCAA Div. III New England Regional meet, which will be held at Mount Greylock High School. The Ephs’ top seven runners will compete against the best teams in the New England region, with the hopes of earning a competitive spot at the NCAA Championships this year, which will occur on Nov. 22 in Mason, Ohio. While the season draws to a close, the excitement is exponentially mounting as the team prepares for the final challenges that lie ahead.

“This year our women’s group had three seniors running their final cross country races for Williams, and all put forth their best efforts of the season,” Head Coach Pete Farwell ’73 said. “Having all seven of our team finish in the top 20 is a real triumph.”