Women’s Cross Country | Freshman Gould paces Tufts to top-five finish at Williams
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 01:09
Heading into the Purple Valley Classic, the women’s cross country team prepared itself to find out how its particularly young lineup stacked up against some of the top Div. III teams in the country.
In their season-opening dual meet the weekend before against Bates, Tufts was paced by a number of freshmen, and after an early season test this Saturday at Williams College it has become clear that despite its youth, this Jumbo squad is here to stay.
Out of the 15 teams at the Classic, Tufts finished fifth, powered by its strength at the top of the lineup, with three runners in the top 25 finishers. Tufts’ 137 points were bested by only Williams (78), MIT (83), Middlebury (87) and Oberlin (137). Critically, though, Tufts managed to finish ahead of NESCAC rivals Colby and Amherst, two squads that will certainly compete with Tufts as the season goes on.
Tufts was led again by freshman Audrey Gould, who finished 12th overall with a 22:56 time over 6000 meters, her first race at that distance for the Jumbos.
“The race was definitely hard for me mentally because it was a 6K, and I didn’t really know if I would have to run differently to accommodate for the extra kilometer,” Gould said.
Despite the difficulties involved with the new pacing, Gould rose to the occasion in the unfamiliar race, moving up from pack to pack over the second half of the race to lead the Jumbos across the finish line.
Next to finish for Tufts was senior co-captain Lilly Fisher, who finished in 23:13, good enough for 18th place. The other three Jumbos to score points on Saturday were junior Abby Barker, freshman Olivia Beltrani and junior Lauren Creath, finishing in 24th, 38th and 50th, respectively.
Tufts’ depth in the two through five positions proved to be the difference in edging out conference rival Amherst for fifth place, which was a pre-race goal.
“We knew this meet would be an early opportunity to see how we stacked up against many of the best teams from our region,” Fisher said. “We were excited to have finished ahead of Amherst, a team that has beaten us in championship meets in the past.”
In the other event of the day, the coed 5,000-meter race, Tufts finished in third place with 65 points, losing to Williams and Colby who had 47 and 61 points, respectively. Despite finishing behind several NESCAC foes, Tufts was satisfied with the finish, as the team bested strong competitors such as NYU and Hamilton.
And much like in the 6,000-meter race, the efforts of two first-years led the women’s team to its high finish. Elissa Ladwig and Lily Corcoran both placed in the top fifteen with times of 21:19 and 21:32, respectively.
The Jumbos put together a solid showing against quality opposition on Saturday and will look to use the strong performance as a springboard for the rest of the year.
“We know that we have to work hard in such a competitive region,” Fisher said. “But we’re a really deep and strong team, and I think we have the talent, enthusiasm and momentum to make this one of our best seasons.”
The women’s team will have next weekend off and will use the break to tune up for the Open New England Championship on Oct. 7, a meet that will pit the Jumbos against regional rivals along with Div. I squads at Westfield State University.
“Hopefully we’ll go into Open New England’s and surprise some teams who didn’t expect us to be a factor,” Gould said.