Women’s cross country comes in eighth at NCAA Regionals

BOSTON – The women’s cross country team ran its penultimate race on Saturday, finishing in eighth place with 232 points in a field of 38 squads at the Northeast Regional Champi-onship at Franklin Park. Despite missing two of their top competitors, the Bears improved three spots over last year’s disappointing 11th-place finish.

Boston College won the race by one point over Columbia, while Providence College senior Fiona Crombie took the individual title in 20:27. Yale was fifth and Cornell narrowly squeaked past the Bears by two points for seventh, although the Bears had beaten Cornell at the Ivy League Championships two weeks earlier. Brown outpaced Harvard and Dartmouth, both of which finished with 271 points.

Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Craig Lake said she was pleased with the performance, especially since the team was missing two regular varsity runners – Naja Ferjan ’07 and Lindsay Khan ’09 – due to injury and sickness, respectively.

“We beat Dartmouth, and almost Cornell, without Naja and Lindsay, so it was a pretty good day,” Lake said.

Leading a pack of three seniors to huge improvements over last year’s regional race was Anya Davidson ’06, who placed 21st in a time of 21:36 on the six-kilometer course, earning her All-Regional honors.

Not far behind Davidson was captain Anna Willard ’06, who finished in 31st place with a time of 21:50. Willard and Davidson helped to push each other along throughout the entire race.

“Anna is better in the beginning of the race and I am better in the end of the race, so she helps to push me along in at the start and then I take over in the latter parts, which works well for both of us,” Davidson said.

Following her fellow classmates was Herald Assistant Sports Editor Jilane Rodgers ’06, who posted a 91-place improvement over last year’s race. Rodgers stepped up to fill the void left by Ferjan, finishing 48th in a time of 22:12. Her performance was so impressive that Lake honored her with the team’s first ever “Rubber Duck Award” – an unofficial honor that the recipient will pass on to whoever they think has the best individual performance on either the men’s or women’s team at the following race.

“We all knew we had to step it up,” Rodgers said. “I followed Coach Lake’s plan and just started off conservatively then picked people off the entire race.”

Finishing fourth for the Bears was Michol Monaghan ’07, just three seconds behind Rodgers in 54th. Monaghan began the race working with Willard and Davidson, as in past races, but fell off the pace toward the end.

Alex Brown ’08 completed the top five for Brown in 78th place with a time of 22:45, a finish Lake said was another strong performance. Also in the race were Herald Sports Staff Writer Madeline Marecki ’07 and Smita Gupta ’08, who helped to push Rodgers early on in the race.

“Smita led me in the beginning of the race, which was very encouraging,” Rodgers said. “She took control, and it was inspiring. She definitely helped to motivate me.”

Despite a turbulent beginning to the season due to Lake’s late arrival on campus, the team could not be happier with its season, which has seen personal bests every weekend and a consistency that had been missing from previous years.

“Everyone is really satisfied with the season. Coach Lake has been a fantastic coach, and we have really enjoyed running for her,” Willard said.

Regionals marked the end of the season for most of the varsity runners, as they will now begin to prepare for the indoor season, but not before some well deserved time off. A partial squad, however, will make one final trip to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx Saturday to compete in the ECAC Championships.