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Women’s X-Country Takes 2nd

By Melanie Harris

TEAM MEMBER

The women’s cross country team travelled Saturday morning to WPI with the Engineer’s Cup in tow. Although the cup continued the journey westward to RPI after the race, the MIT women still returned with success. RPI won with 22 points, but WPI’s 68 points could not come close to MIT’s score of 46.

The team is young. Half the runners are freshmen while half of the upperclassmen are running cross country at MIT for the first time. Distance coach Harold “HBH” Hatch is new to the team this year as well. These factors, along with the graduation of several top runners, might spell “rebuilding year” to some. However, people have already stepped up to fill in the gaps. Although HBH is new to the team, he is definitely not new to the sport, and eagerly shares his wisdom with the team.

Freshman in front of MIT pack

The new Engineers were not afraid to lead the team on Saturday. Katie Huffman ’04 led the team in the 3.1 mile event with a fourth place finish and a personal best of 19:51. Now that she has broken the 20 minute barrier, there will be no stopping her. Marissa Yates ’03 passed RPI runners during the race as if she was born to do so, finishing close behind Huffman with a 7th place finish and a time of 20:30. Captain Melanie Harris ’01 came in 10th place by picking up lost places as well as the pace in the last mile, finishing just under 21 minutes. Helen Huang ’01, veteran of track but rookie to cross country, continued to shock the competition and amaze her teammates as she dropped another minute off of her time to 21:33 and a 14th place finish.

Rounding out the scores was Julie Pinkston ’04 in 16th place. Pinkston, Crystal Russell ’03, and Catlin M. Gaffey ’02 practiced a perfect attack with respective times of 21:47, 21:49, and 21:52. Russell returns to the team as tough as ever. Gaffey, who has ran marathons in the past but never a cross country race, once stated that 26.2 miles was easy -- it’s the 3.1 mile races that are hard; but watching her race, you would not think that was the case.

Another newcomer, Sarah Cotton ’04, raced with her characteristic enthusiasm for a time of 22:25. Chi-An Wang ’01 returns successfully for a season of distance running after running as a sprinter during track, with a time of 22:52. Katie Wasserman ’04 ran a strong 24:12 over the windy WPI course. Genevieve Park ’04 showed she could be relied on to be there for the team when needed as she took the place of Martha Buckley ’04, who was unfortunately unable to race due to illness.

Park attended the meet as an alternate, and took it in stride when she learned she would be racing, finishing with a time of 25:49. Molly Jones ’03 showed us how tough she is when she finished the race, even though she was suffering from the heat of the noon time race.

A positive experience in loss

Everyone improved this week in comparison to the Alumni Meet the week before, and with continued hard work in practice, the times will continue to drop as the women get faster, stronger, and tougher.

Next Saturday the Engineers will race at UMass Dartmouth, where a flat course and strong competition will provide an opportunity for some impressive races.