Women's XC Races to First Place Finish
Issue   |   Wed, 09/11/2013 - 00:56

If there was any doubt about how the women’s cross country team would rebound from the loss of all-world star Keri Lambert ’13, the squad has, at least for now, quieted it.

In fact, the team started its season in the strongest possible way: by handily winning the Smith Invitational, held on Sept. 7. In recent years, the Lady Jeffs have opened their season at the UMass Invitational (Sept. 14), but, this year, they were afforded an early opportunity to showcase their potential. The only NESCAC team in the field, the Amherst squad dominated, winning the team championship with 36 points. The next closest team, Wellesley, finished with 49.

Individually, Lexi Sinclair ’16 led the way, winning the individual title by more than 15 seconds with a time of 19:28.10. Sinclair, however, was quick to downplay her own performance in favor of the team’s impressive win.

“Our biggest strength this weekend was running in packs, which really allowed us to stay strong and motivated for the entire race,” Sinclair said. “It was really a team effort, which is a little harder to see in a sport such as running.”

Lizzy Briskin ’15, who is slated to be one of the key components for the 2013 Lady Jeffs, placed second in the field, following Sinclair with a time of 19:43.53. Jessie Kaliski ’15 and first-year Savanna Gornisiewicz also impressed, finishing fifth and tenth overall , respectively.

Other top-25 finishers included Betsy Black ’16 (20:31.48) and Amy Dao ’13 (20:38.75), as well as first-years Catherine Lowdon (20:35.94), Cara Lembo (20:42.18) and Sophie Currin (20:42.43).

Briskin pointed to her team’s work ethic as a driving force behind its early success.

“It wasn’t an easy course at Smith, with some significant hills,” Briskin said. “I am very happy with how hard everyone worked, especially the first-years. We rarely get to start the season with an overall meet win; it is a great way to start the season and set the tone for the upcoming meets.”

She further emphasized the importance of “racing smart,” which, along with a continuing focus on “pack” running, will be critical going forward.

This weekend the team will be facing off against stiff competition at the UMass Invitational, but previous editions of the Lady Jeffs have shown the ability to knock off Div. I teams. Last year, for example, the Amherst squad finished third out of six at the event, besting UMass for the number three spot by nine points.

Following this weekend’s cross-town tilt, the team will compete at the Purple Valley Classic on Sept. 28 and the James Earley Invitational — as well as the NEICAAA Championships — on Oct. 12.