Facing rainy weather, a muddy course, and the absence of top runners Julia Pudlin ’06 and Melissa Donais ’06, the women’s cross country team opened its season Saturday at the Georgetown Invitational in Manassas, Va.

The Bulldogs lost to No. 15 Arkansas and No. 8 Georgetown. Arkansas and Georgetown each scored 28 points, well ahead of the Elis, who finished with 80 points. Arkansas finished first overall because its sixth runner beat Georgetown’s sixth runner.

Cara Kiernan ’07 led the Bulldog women, placing 12th in 19:02 over the five-kilometer course. Anne Martin ’05 and captain Rebecca Hunter ’04 also placed in the top 20. Twins Alexandra Sawicki ’04 and Nadia Sawicki ’04 were the other Bulldogs to score, finishing 23rd and 24th respectively.

Despite losing to Arkansas and Georgetown by a large margin, Hunter was pleased with the Bulldogs’ performance.

“The results were really quite good,” she said. “In terms of team running, we did really well.”

Head coach Mark Young instructed the team to try to run in three distinct packs and to try to stay in those packs at least through the first mile. Hunter said that running as a tight pack will be a key to performing well in later meets.

Citing a 47-second gap between the first and fifth runner and a gap of only a minute between the first and seventh, Hunter believed the Bulldogs could do better.

“The goal will be to narrow that gap,” she said.

Hunter also praised Kiernan, who led the Bulldogs in her first collegiate race.

“Cara did really well,” she said. “We’re looking forward to seeing what she can do.”

The Bulldogs have a two-week layoff before they run again in the Iona Invitational in New York City.