Women’s XC Holds Strong Fall Pace

As the Seahawks campus-wide begin their Fall 2010 seasons with training, practices, and competition, the Women’s Cross Country team steps up to the starting line for what will certainly be a fast-paced, eventful season.

Ending last season Apr. 30 with the Ocean City Half-Marathon in Ocean City, MD, the Seahawks began summer training on campus to stay in-shape and focused for this season’s vigorous meet schedule.

“We usually get in about six miles each day,” said senior runner and team captain Christi Ford, discussing the team’s typical six-day workout. The team practices every day but Wednesday, and meets against other Colleges are usually scheduled for Saturday.

“We have a very strong team,” said sophomore returner Katie Phipps, now in her second year on the team. “The girl’s team has grown a lot this year with a great freshman team.”

Beginning their inaugural season last year under coach Tom Fisher, the director of the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center, the female Seahawks expanded their team this year, maintaining six of the first year’s seven athletes and gaining five Seahawks, including four first-year runners and one sophomore runner.

“The season’s been going very well,” said Ford. “Performance-wise, we’re doing much better.”

The team is currently a third of the way through the Fall season, completing the third of nine meets last Saturday at York, PA, during the Coach Achtzehn Classic in John Rudy State Park. The Seahawks finished fifth out of ten schools, besting the Community College of Baltimore County by 70 points and following Goucher College at the heels by 38 points. Shannon Rafferty, a first-year athlete from Bel Air, MD, finished fourth in the 79-runner meet, with a 20:14.82 for the five-kilometer race. Following Rafferty was Phipps in 21st, Keighly Bradbrook in 22nd, junior captain Kathleen Tatem in 33rd, Ginger Williams in 35th, Caroline VanBlargan in 41st, Ford in 52nd, and Laura Hewins in 68th.

Other teams at Saturday’s meet included Franklin and Marshall College, McDaniel College, York College of Pennsylvania, Hood College, Stevenson University, Alvernia University, and Lancaster Bible College.

Before Saturday’s meet, the team stood 5th out 11 teams at the Green Terror Invitational at McDaniel College on Sept. 11, with three top 15 individual finishes by Rafferty (5th), Phipps (13th), and Bradbrook (14th). Following closely behind were Tatem (26), VanBlargan (37), Williams (38), Hay (43), Ford (62), Hewins (76), and McGrath (81).

It was the first meet of the season, however, that foreshadowed the difficulties the Women’s Seahawks will face this season. The team finished 7th out of 10 schools at the Salisbury Sea Gull Opener. Finishing in fourth place was Salisbury, whose team the Seahawks will have to stay close to in rankings to make it in the top three at the Capital Athletic Conference Championships. The girls will also have to compete well against the University of Mary-Washington, and beat the current third-place contender, York.
“We’re better prepared this year,” said Fisher, now in his second season with the Seahawks. “We’ve set up a tougher schedule to become prepared for championships.”

While the cross country athletes are staying focused and performing well for the start of the season, player injuries have also taken a toll on the team’s competitive edge. “We’ve been trying to stay one step ahead of the injury bug,” said Fisher. “We’ve had some nagging ones, but we hope to be prepared for the upcoming competition.”

Nevertheless, the Seahawks are preparing for their next meet, the Paul Short Invitational, on Oct. 1 at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. “We want to show the conference that we’re not going anytime soon,” said Phipps.

Following Oct. 1 are the Goucher Cross Country Classics on Oct. 9 in Towson, MD, and the Gettysburg Invitational on Oct. 16, before CAC Championships begin in November.

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