Women's Cross Country | Depth on display as Jumbos finish second at ECAC Championship
Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 07:11
With the NCAA Regional looming this weekend, the Jumbos’ varsity runners rested on Saturday, leaving the second seven to carry the team at the ECAC Championship.
The sub-varsity squad certainly took advantage of the opportunity, placing second in the field of 41 teams from all over the northeast. Other top New England teams deployed the same strategy as the Jumbos, which meant that the squad with the most depth would likely emerge victorious.
Tufts’ 63 points were only bested by Middlebury’s 31, and the Jumbos easily beat out the rest of the top five, with Williams, Amherst and St. Joseph’s scoring 140, 157, and 200 points, respectively.
Individually, the title was seized by Jennifer Van Winger, a senior from Drew who recorded a time of 22:55 to lead the field on a hilly, wooded six-kilometer course.
Heading into the race, the Jumbos aimed to run aggressively and as a pack.
“Our goal as a team was to not be afraid to go out with leaders,” senior Toby Crispin said. “We wanted to work off each other throughout the race to keep pushing. I think we really put everything out there.”
First to finish for Tufts was senior Julia Hajnoczky. She clocked a time of 23:29 to place eighth overall and earn All-ECAC honors. Also earning that distinction was junior Lauren Creath, whose time of 23:44 was good enough for 12th place.
Finishing bunched up in 15th, 16th and 17th were Crispin, senior Lydia Jessup, junior Molly Mirhashem, and senior Melanie Monroe. All four were separated by only eleven seconds, epitomizing the squad’s emphasis on pack running and teamwork.
Sophomore Meghan Gillis rounded out the Jumbos’ top seven, finishing 29th in a time of 24:17.
“Our goal was to lead the race and run as a pack,” Jessup said. “We talked a lot about working together and we definitely did that during the race by running together and encouraging each other to run faster.”
The runner-up finish certainly ended the sub-varsity team’s season on a high note.
“We were very happy with our finish because we worked really hard for it and everyone contributed,” Jessup said. “This was the type of race that reminds me why I love cross country so much. We weren’t just running as individuals, we were really running as a team — with each other and for each other.”
Crispin echoed that sentiment and expressed how important her teammates were to her individual performance.
“There were a bunch of times during the race when I started to get tired and drop back, but each time one of my teammates would pull me along,” she said. “It was a really amazing feeling to run as a pack like that.”
Throughout the season, such moments became common for the squad. The entire group feels that it showed drastic improvement throughout the fall.
“I was happy with my season overall,” Jessup said. “I’m happy that I improved from last year and I am hoping that improvement will continue in indoor track.”
That track campaign gets under way Dec. 1 with the Jay Carisella Invitational at Northeastern. But first, the group that ran this weekend will become fans over the next few weeks as the cross country post-season heats up.
Coach Kristen Morwick’s varsity runners will compete in the NCAA Regional Championship at Westfield State on Saturday and possibly the NCAA Championship in Terre Haute, Ind. on Nov. 17.
Only the top two teams at the Regional Championship will earn an automatic berth to the national meet. Up to three more teams from the region, however, can receive an at-large bid to NCAA’s, which is the route last year’s squad took to the national stage.