Women's Cross Country Ready to Begin 2017 Season With Strong Returning Cast

MEDFORD, Mass. – The Tuft's University Women's Cross Country team looks to extend its season opening streak of first place finishes to four as they begin their campaign at the Bates Invitational in New Gloucester, Maine this Saturday at 11:45 a.m.

Brittany Bowman returns for her senior season as one of the team's three captains.

The Jumbos will start their season at Bates for the third time in a row, after taking first place at the Bowdoin Invitational back in 2014.

The team checks in at 10th in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association preseason poll.

"Our goals are to be top two at NESCACs and Regionals and finish in the top five at NCAAs." Head Coach Kristen Morwick said. "Beyond that, we'd like to stay healthy and for everyone to improve throughout the season."

The Jumbos had a successful 2016 campaign compiling two first place finishes, two second place finishes, as well as a third and a fourth place finish. They came in first out of four teams at the Bates Invitational, first out of 21 teams at the Connecticut College Invitational, second out of 41 teams at the James Early Invitational, second out of 11 teams at the NESCAC Championship, and third out of 59 teams at the NCAA Regional Championship. The team also finished eighth out of 32 teams at the NCAA National Championship.

2016 seniors Sam Cox, Kelly Fahey, Lindsay Atkeson, and Alice Wasserman will not be returning this year having graduated in May. They were consistently a part of Tufts' top seven runners last year and Coach Morwick said they will be big losses.

Luckily, the Jumbos have runners who are ready to step up, and in some cases, continue turning in great results to keep the team on track.

"Brittany Bowman and Natalie Bettez return as top runners in both NESCAC and New England," Morwick said. "Also returning is Kelsey Tierney who had a breakout sophomore year last year."

Bowman had an impressive junior season last year, earning All-American honors and turning in three top three finishes. She came in third at the Bates Invitational, third at the Connecticut College Invitational, and won the Regional Championship. She was Tufts' top finisher at the NCAA Championship coming in 18th.  

Bettez was consistently in Tufts' top two runners last year as a sophomore. She came in fifth at the Bates Invitational, second at the NESCAC Championship, and sixth at Regionals.

Tierney was another sophomore doing big things for the Jumbos last year. She was the Jumbo's top finisher at the James Earley Invitational where she came in fourth. She finished 15th at the Bates Invitational and 26th at Regionals.

"We add 13 new kids this fall and graduated a significant senior class last year," Morwick said. "The new kids have a ton of talent, but will need some college races under their belts to feel comfortable. We are a bit of an unknown right now and could surprise some people at the end of the season."

Other runners returning for Tufts this season are seniors Margot Rashba, Olivia Nicholson, and Eliza Lawless who all have top seven potential. Sophomore Lydia Heely is back after being sidelined for much of the year last year and is already looking great according to Morwick.

The Jumbos will compete in seven events this season. Including the Bates Invitational, they will also take part in the Purple Valley Classic (Sept. 23), the All New England Championships (Oct. 7), the Connecticut College Invitational (Oct. 14), the NESCAC Championships (Oct. 28), the Division III New England Regionals (Nov. 11), and the NCAA Championships (Nov. 18).

"Right now, we're in the 'do work' phase of training … running solid mileage and putting in some tough longer workouts," Morwick said. "We're also working as a group to formulate realistic goals and focusing on doing all the little things to stay healthy physically and mentally to be ready to perform at our best in November. It's a long three-month push, so patience, consistency, and trust in our plan are the keys to our success."

 

Written by Curtis Stoychoff, Athletic Communications Intern