A week after running against Harvard and Princeton in the Big Three meet, the women’s cross country team met Harvard on the Crimson’s home turf once again last Friday. But this time, circumstances were different, as the old rivals were joined by 39 other teams from across New England.
The Bulldogs competed in the New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association Cross Country Championship held in Boston’s Franklin Park. The Bulldogs finished 10th out of 41 schools. Brown won the meet, but the Elis finished 137 points ahead of 16th place Harvard and 157 points ahead of 17th place Dartmouth.
Katie McKinstry ’07 led the Bulldogs, placing 37th with a time of 18:42 for five kilometers, 32 seconds better than her previous personal best. Lauren Davis ’06 also ran a personal best, placing 46th, seven seconds behind McKinstry. Rounding out the top five for the Bulldogs were 69th place Claire Hamilton ’07, 75th place Madeleine Meek ’03, and 96th place Rachel Harrington ’06.
In a massive race in which 287 women crossed the finish line, the Bulldogs managed to stay relatively close together even if they could not see each other by the end of the contest. Only 38 seconds separated the first and fifth runners, proving once again that the Elis have a very deep squad. Running in a tight pack is especially important in such a large race where even a few seconds may mean a huge difference in score as runners swarm across the line.
McKinstry commended the teamwork the Bulldogs displayed.
“Katie Matlack established a strong position for us off of the line and we paced very well as a pack through at least the first mile,” she said.
Matlack placed 143rd with a time of 19:46.
McKinstry added that she liked the larger race, which differed from last week’s tri-meet.
“I personally like big meets,” she said. “I feel more anonymous, so I don’t pressure myself to sprint off the line to glory.”
The tenth place finish and the loss to Brown are somewhat deceptive. The Bulldogs competed without their top nine runners, who took the weekend off to prepare for this weekend’s Pre-Nationals meet in Iowa.
“The overall 10th place finish is quite encouraging, especially considering that our top 9 were not competing,” said captain Rebecca Hunter ’04, who was among the women who did not run. “[It is] another confirmation of our depth.”
Comparing the Bulldogs’ top times from the Big Three meet with Brown’s times from Friday, the Bulldogs emerge far ahead. The Elis would have placed three runners before Brown’s first, and seven runners before the Bears’ third. While it can be misleading to compare times from different days since there are any number of factors that can affect the outcome, it does provide some perspective.
It is somewhat of a rarity for a team to run on the same course in two consecutive weeks, but it provides an excellent opportunity to compare times and see the developments teams make.
According to Davis, the progress was encouraging, as multiple runners improved their individual times by more than 30 seconds.
“The weekend was encouraging, and it served as a good indicator of our success in the near future,” Davis said.