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Women’s X-Country Comes Out on Top at Mt. Holyoke

By Marissa Yates

TEAM MEMBER

The women’s cross country team was victorious Saturday on Mt. Holyoke’s scenic course. The team defended their first place poll standing in the NEWMAC conference by defeating Mt. Holyoke, Smith, and Coast Guard. MIT came in with 36 points, ahead of Holyoke’s 45, Coast Guard’s 57, and Smith’s 87.

The Engineers began the race conservatively and consistently moved forward in the field of 80 runners. Julia C. Espel ’05 and Martha W. Buckley ’04 finished two seconds apart, claiming first and second places with times of 18:42 and 18:44, respectively.

The Engineers’ goal of holding back the first mile proved profitable, as many runners negative split each mile and a few turned in peak performances. Holyoke’s course, though not the fastest the team will see this year, was shorter than the normal distance of 3.1 miles (5k) by 50 meters. On Saturday, the lakeside path was filled with mud puddles and potholes.

Following the example set by the lead runners, the next group of MIT women ran the race in a tight pack. Freshman Valerie Y. Kuo ’06 led the pack with an eighth place finish, closely followed by Veronica A. Andrews ’05, Katie R. Huffman ’04, and Lynn K. Kamimoto ’05. The pack came in between 19:55 and 20:08, claiming 8th, 12th, 13th, and 15th for MIT.

Senior Crystal A. Russell ’03 led the next pack of MIT racers, including rookies Kelly Kuo ’06 and Becky R. Romatoski ’06, senior captain Marissa L. Yates ’03, and alumna Mealani Nakamura. This pack came in between 20:46 and 21:08.

The team’s depth was evident as the Engineers didn’t finish later than 61st in the large field, and all runners were in under 23:15. According to Coach Paul Slovenski, the team’s goal was to “try hard to pack attack by working together.” Almost every team member finished within two places of another Engineer. Other packs included Andrea J. Dooley ’06, Nancy J. Benedetti ’05, Julie Y. Tse ’05, and Jennifer A. La’O ’05, followed by Elizabeth R. Walker ’06, Stephanie A. Claussen ’05, and Alisa P. Lehman ’05. Rounding off the team’s strong finish were Elizabeth A. Witham ’05, Jasmin Moghbeli ’05, and Sarah E. Sheppard ’06.

This Saturday, the team will be racing on its home course in Franklin Park against Springfield College.