Women’s Cross Country | Jumbo runners optimistic for fall season
Published: Friday, September 13, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 13, 2013 01:09
The women’s cross country team, led by head coach Kristen Morwick, starts its season on Sept. 21 at the University of Southern Maine Invitational. After an inconsistent 2012 season, defined by a tied-for-fourth-place finish at the NESCAC Championship and ending without an NCAA Championship bid, the team is hopeful about potential improvement this season.
Senior tri-captain Abby Barker believes that the team should be able to learn from its mistakes last year in order to overcome some of the difficulties that it faced.
“I think we are stronger than we’ve ever been as a team,” Barker said. “Each year we learn from our failures in the previous season, and that is especially true of this year. Last season, we got caught up in the little things, as well as some injury issues, and ultimately were not as prepared as the teams we raced.”
For senior tri-captain Lauren Creath, the changes in the team’s construction will likely be a step in the right direction.
“The season so far has already been much different from last year in the best way possible,” she said. “The roster was cut down from 40 to 25 girls, which has established a more serious tone on the team. The smaller roster will allow more opportunity for everybody to be a contributor in races this season. A smaller team has also allowed us to get to know each other on a deeper level and learn how to work better together during hard workouts, which will hopefully transfer over into our races.”
Because of the notoriously strong cross country talent in the NESCAC, a conference championship seems to be out of reach for this year’s Jumbos, but the team feels that it can still accomplish its goals without winning the league.
“Our first goal is to place third or higher at the NESCAC Championship,” Creath said. “Judging from the rosters of the other NESCAC schools, Williams and Middlebury should still be dominant. Colby and Bates shouldn’t be counted out either.”
Last season, after finishing tied with Bates and behind Williams, Middlebury and Amherst in the NESCAC Championship, the Jumbos placed sixth in the New England Regional Championship, nearly earning a spot at the NCAA Championships.
“Based on how our girls have been running, I know that we will be strong contenders and have girls finishing at the top of the pack when it comes down to big races like NESCACs and Regionals,” Creath said. “At Regionals we are determined to finish in the top four. The NCAA will take six New England teams to the National Championship, and TUXC plans to be one of them.”
In the case of the team not qualifying, runners can qualify for the NCAA Championship meets as individuals with a strong showing at the Regional meet. Last season, sophomore Audrey Gould placed 19th at Regionals and was the only Jumbo to earn a spot at the NCAA Championship meet. Out of the Tufts runners, Gould, Barker, Creath and sophomore Olivia Beltrani have the highest chances of qualifying for the NCAA Championship meet as individuals.
With only four meets until the NESCAC Championship, timing is everything for the Jumbos.
“Based on how last year ended, the hardest part about this season will be not peaking too soon,” Creath said. “Women’s TUXC was very dominant up until NESCACs last year, and then we fell apart.”
Barker mentioned the importance of staying in packs both in practice and at meets as a key way for the team to motivate itself while running.
“We’ve already developed a strong pack mentality in the training so far this year, and I’m excited to see how that will push us in races,” Barker said.
All in all, the team believes that increased mental fortitude and an enhanced training regimen will allow for greater success this fall.
“We have a lot to learn from last year’s season that will make us stronger mentally because we have a much better idea of the challenges we will face,” Barker said. “Quite a few people are coming off of a really strong summer training and are already pushing our team and making it more competitive.”