Women’s Cross Country | Tufts’ strong performance leads to top 15 finish
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 08:10
The Tufts women’s cross country team competed in the New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association Championship on Saturday, placing 12th of 43 competing teams from all divisions of the NCAA. The meet, which took place at Franklin Park in Boston, featured the toughest competition that the Jumbos have seen this season, with Div. I schools such as Boston University, UConn and the University of New Hampshire all finishing in the top 10.
Tufts’ 12th place finish overall was the second best finish by NESCAC teams, with only Middlebury College finishing ahead, placing fifth overall. The Panthers’ score of 192 easily defeated the Jumbos’ 350 points.
The best race of the day for Tufts came from sophomore Audrey Gould. Crossing the finish line with a time of 18:35, Gould placed 43rd overall and first on her team. Senior tri-captain Abby Barker and sophomore Olivia Beltrani finished not far behind, finishing with times of 18:41 and 18:42, respectively. The two placed 55th and 56th. Next to finish was senior tri-captain Lauren Creath, crossing the line in 18:56 for 81st place. Molly Mirhashem rounded out the scoring for the Jumbos, finishing in 115th place, with a time of 19:14.
“This race is always fast,” Creath said. “It goes out hard and never slows down, there’s no settling in.”
The results do not sound very promising, but considering the level of competition at the meet, the team is encouraged.
“The competition and just sheer quantity of runners in our race was an important for our season. We had to be able to pick out our DIII competition from the crowd, as well as rise to the challenge that the DI runners brought to the table,” Beltrani said. “It was a challenge to be among such amazing runners, but also gave us important knowledge regarding competition in our division.”
Tufts runners also commented on how the style of running in races like this will prepare them for their important upcoming meets.
“[The meet] was good practice for Regionals and NESCACs because we won’t be taking out the race, we will have to get out hard to establish our pace,” Creath said. “In meets like that, you have to get out fast because your positioning at the beginning has a lot to do with how you finish.”
All year, the team has stressed pack mentality, knowing that success in cross country comes from an all around team effort, rather than one or two star runners.
“Anyone can step up and win any race,” Creath said. “It’s important because it gives everyone the confidence that if they’re feeling good that day, they’ll go for it. It allows more people to step up and not be intimidated, and that pushes all of us.”
Gould, Barker and Beltrani managed to stay together for most of the race, with all three finishing within seven seconds. With Creath and Mirhashem finishing not too far behind, the team finished with a 39-second 1-5 spread, which is a similar result to the previous meets of this season. Even the next two finishers for Tufts weren’t far off the pack. Junior Caroline Kimball-Katz finished 143rd with a time of 19:31, and senior Laura Peterson finished 164th with a time of 19:42, just over a minute after Gould. The team draws its success from this strong core of veteran runners.
The Tufts freshmen runners, however, also have made strong contributions to the team. Running in the sub-varsity race, freshman Lindsay Atkeson finished with a time of 19:10, and freshman Alice Wasserman finished in 19:29. Both freshmen would have been right in the middle of the Jumbo pack in the varsity race. Running in the sub-varsity race allowed the younger runners to get the same exposure as the rest of the team, but in a less intimidating setting.
“The freshmen really stepped up,” Creath said. “Some of them even raced better than girls in the varsity race.”
The team will look to improve with this new experience at the Connecticut College Invitational in Waterford, CT on Saturday.