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Women’s X-Country Places Fifth

By Elizabeth R. Walker

TEAM MEMBER

The MIT Women’s Cross Country team showed strength in numbers last weekend, taking home a fifth place finish in the Twin Brooks Invitational in Cumberland, Maine.

With 21 of the 31-woman roster competing, the Tech women used “pack running” techniques to provide encouragement and pressure to each other as they raced their way through the hilly six-kilometer course. Running as packs also allowed team members to draft off each other through the windy patches of the first and last miles.

Pack running proved to be a smart tactic as the women raced to a fifth place finish (158 points) among a competitive field of thirteen teams, including nationally ranked Tufts University, who won the meet with 42 points.

Leading the way for the Lady Harriers was co-captain Julia C. Espel ’05, who came in 11th in the field of 142 runners with a time of 23:47. Just three weeks ago, Espel was also named New England Women and Men’s Athletic Conference Runner of the Week after placing first among collegiate runners in the MIT Harrier Classic, where MIT placed fourth among fifteen teams.

Unlike some years where one class dominates within the MIT squad, this year the large numbers and increased summer mileage have resulted in peak performances among all four classes. After returning from a year at Cambridge University, Senior Stephanie A. Claussen ’05 said, “Like every year in the past, the freshman class has really pulled its weight -- our team has so many freshmen! But I’ve been particularly impressed with some of the upperclassmen, like Jen Gaugler, who have really stepped it up over the past two years as well.”

This diversity was evident this weekend, because following Espel was the consistent varsity pack of Kristen M. Burrall ’08, Alisha R. Schor ’07, co-captain Jennifer A. Gaugler ’05, Elizabeth R. Walker ’06, and Vicky H. Hsu ’08, all of whom finished in under 26 minutes. Following this group were strong performances by freshmen Angelique E. Moscicki ’08 and Carolyn P. Atwood ’08. Personal bests were also set by upperclassmen Rebecca R. Romotoski ’06 and Jordan Wirfs-Brock ’06.

As defending NEWMAC champions, the MIT women have a lot to live up to, and the going will be tough with the loss of former top runner Martha Buckley ’04. However, the women have shown so far this season that they are up to the challenge. “We’re still not quite racing where we want to be yet,” said Schor. “So far we’ve proven that there is a lot of talent and potential, but you don’t win championships with potential. The conference meet and the regional meet are the two that count.”

With luck, in two weeks, when the MIT women travel to Coast Guard Academy for the NEWMAC Championships, they will be ready to compete and win. If the season thus far is any indication the women may be soon drinking from the trophy cup again.