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Women’s Cross Country bond as team, finish strong

The Grinnell College Women’s Cross Country Team will be officially concluding its season in a couple of weeks. They have competed in six meets throughout the season, finishing in the top half of the teams participating in three of the meets and not far off from there in the other three. The team began their season with a strong, pace-setting win in the Central Invitational meet.

“We started on a high note winning our first meet at Central College. We went into the race not exactly running it as a race because our goal was to run a conservative and controlled first mile and then just go for it, whatever happens happens and just go from there, and we ended up winning the race which was a nice way to start the season,” said Head Coach Evelyn Freeman.

After this initial win, the women faced obstacles including illness, injury and even a meet where the heat was so unbearable that a couple of runners passed out. But the Pioneers persevered to complete a successful season.

“Life is all about challenges so we just stuck to our guns, kept fighting the good fight and finished up on a fairly high note at Conference,”  Freeman said.

Their most recent finish was 4th in the Midwest Conference Championship held at Gibson Woods Golf course in Monmouth, Illinois. Grinnell scorers placed 13th, 15th, 16th, 23rd, and 26th in a field of over 100 runners. Leading the way was Hannah Colter ’12 followed by Sarah Burnell ’14, Leah Russell ’11, Catherine Bisignano ’12 and Cassidy White ’14. Colter, Burnell and Russell won all-Conference honors. Despite these strong finishes, the women did not fulfill their goal of defending their Conference title. Both Freeman and Colter acknowledged the particularly high quality of competition present in the Midwest Conference this season.

“Our Conference this year just was more competitive,” Colter said.

However, the team members are still proud of their performances, as they should be, and they fulfilled Freeman’s hope that they would give their best efforts.

“I really wanted them to feel at the end of the race like they had run well and given their best effort, and I think for the most part they were really successful with that,” said Freeman.

Colter agrees with this assessment of the race.

“I thought it was good overall, you learn something new from each race,” she said.

The idea of individual development and improvement is supported by the fact that many of the women ran personal best and season best times. Additionally, after the MWC race, four new entries were made to the all-time top 50 Grinnell women’s cross country times list, a feat that can hardly be ignored. Moreover, Freeman is particularly happy with the way the women ran Conference.

“I’m happy that they raced as a team,” said Freeman. It is perhaps this feature of their season that is most important to the women. “The women trained hard, worked hard and supported each other.”

Colter values this connection as well.

“I really value how close we all are … a great support system, I think that’s one of the things that means the most to me,”  Colter said.

Veteran runner Kelsey Hyde ’11 echoed this sentiment.

“The strong bonds from being together every day, two to three hours a day [allow] the team to push each other to achieve each other’s goals,” Hyde said.

Freeman, Colter and Hyde all acknowledged that the success of the team is due in large part to this strong sense of camaraderie. Yet the season is not over yet. The all-Conference competitors will race in the Regional NCAA qualifying meet, where Freeman expects them to finish in the top half of the region. A top half finish would trump their placing from last year.

Looking ahead to next season, the Pioneers can take some solace in the fact five of their top seven runners will be returning.

“Our team this year definitely has a lot of potential,” Colter said.

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    michael taubNov 17, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    great article. well written. keep up the good reporting.