After good summer training, Women's Cross Country is back and ready to compete. The Ephs are coming off of a successful 2016 season, which included wins at Little Threes and NESCACs, a second place finish at NCAA Regionals, and an impressive fourth place finish at the NCAA Championships. Head Coach Pete Farwell states that the Ephs expect to be once again "in the thick of the front teams in both NESCAC and the New England region." Other regional coaches seem to agree with Farwell's and the team's assessment. In the first regional poll Williams is ranked 2nd behind MIT. Preseason national rankings list the Ephs 6th.
The team looks to build on the success of last year, despite losing several key seniors. Co-Captains Maggie Peard (109th at NCAA Championships), Laney Teaford (98th), and Hannah Cole will be missed in the coming season for their leadership as well as their running accomplishments. Peard and Teaford, along with Emma Zehner '17 (111th) were top finishers and represented the Ephs well at NCAA Championships.
The next generation of senior runners is ready to step up and lead the team. Co-captains Victoria Kingham, Anna Harleen , and Emily Sundquist bring a wealth of running experience and a great love for the sport. Harleen, a 3-time Track All-American and Kingham, a 2015 XC All-American were both top scorers at the 2016 NCAA meet, in 75th and 73rd respectively. Sundquist competed at the 2015 NCAA Championships and is coming back strong after a year of injuries. Farwell remarked that "with good experience amongst the 3 senior captains we have superlative leaders- both in terms of team dynamics and their being able to race in our front pack."
Other top returners from 2016 include top Eph NCAA finisher Carmen Bango (NCAA 44th), Emma Herrmann (94th), and Anna Passannante, all sophomores. Bango is currently recovering from injury, but is expected to compete late in the season.
One of the Ephs' greatest strengths is their depth. Senior veterans Stella Worters and Eliza Matt are ready to be scorers and junior Emily Harris and sophomore Emily Tibbetts look to be much improved from last season. Additionally, Audrey Rustad '20 and Tyra Wynn '19 may be prepared to contribute after injury-laden 2016 seasons.
Joining the team are 8 first-years from across the country. They will need to adjust to the 6k championship distance. Erica Barrett (San Diego, CA) and Brianna Bourne (Kensington, CA) bring fast track credentials to the squad.
Coach Farwell will be joined this year by veteran assistant coach Dusty Lopez '01 and new assistant coach Sami Jorgensen. Jorgensen is joining the Ephs after volunteer coaching at Brown University, following her years of running at UNC. Says Farwell, "Coach Jorgensen has lots of positive energy, a fine knowledge of training progressions and alternate exercise workouts, and competitive race experience. Plus she loves recruiting and is quickly getting to know the team."
The Ephs will face tough competition, especially from MIT and Tufts in the New England region, and Johns Hopkins and other top nation-wide teams. Farwell expects his squad will be ready by season's end, saying that "even though most of our squad have a great base from their summer training, they will continue to 'grow' that base, while injecting other training blocks that will help the team race their best in late October for some and November for the top group."
The team will open the season at the McGill Invite in Montreal on Saturday, September 16th and will host the 30-team Purple Valley Classic on their home course at Mt. Greylock High School on September 23rd.