While the start of classes has created the usual hectic campus buzz, the women’s cross country team has been training and preparing for their upcoming season with intensity and grit. The women arrived on campus for preseason last week and have been gearing up for a follow-up to last year’s all-around impressive performances.
The indoor and outdoor track seasons last year paved the way to success for the cross country team, as many of these women have trained all year round with determination, focus, and energy, combining a powerful work ethic with an excellent team culture.
Preseason this fall has proved to be intense but valuable, with daily 6 a.m. practices and afternoon lifts. When asked about this intense schedule, Maddie Nagler ’22 admitted she didn’t mind it.
“There is something very empowering about being out there before the sun comes up with all your teammates,” she said.
Since running requires as much mental strength as it does physical, the quality of the team’s connection with each other is especially important in garnering success. Luckily, the women have already established bonds with one another and gotten a great head start with both their running and their teamwork in their preseason preparation.
The season will open at home on Sept. 14 with the much-anticipated Little Three Championship between Wesleyan, Williams, and Amherst. Last year, the Cardinals came in second in the four-kilometer run, with four runners placing in the top ten and one runner, Julia Mitchell ’19, coming in first place with a time of 15:33.9. Following close behind in fifth place was Becky Lopez-Anido ’21 with a time of 15:42.9.
The energy that the team has gained so far this year will hopefully lead to overtaking Williams, who currently defends the title. Since the Little Three began competing over 50 years ago, Williams has taken the victory 32 times; Wesleyan has claimed the same bragging rights only six times, most recently in 1986.
Overall, the cross country team is quite young, with nine first years, four sophomores, two juniors and two seniors. This will be helpful for building strength and skill in the long term. The members are already tight-knit and supportive of one another. Since the nine first years make up the majority of the team, the women have an exciting surge of energy going into the season with so many new faces.
“[The first years] are very talented runners, but more importantly, they are extremely kind and thoughtful,” said Nagler.
The amazing culture that the team has built and its positive dynamic should contribute to the squad’s harmony, success, and collaboration throughout the season.
Not only will the first years be integral to the team’s success, the leadership of the upperclassmen will also prove to be a crucial element in shaping the team’s trajectory.
Nagler explained that the team leaders are incredible and have gone above and beyond in doing the work needed for this season. These leaders have ensured that the team upholds a balance of hard work and support for one another.
Following the Little Three Championship, the team will head to Lehigh University on Oct. 5 for the Paul Short Run. Then, they will travel to Harkness Park in Waterford, Conn., on Oct. 19 for the Connecticut College Invite. The NESCAC Championship will follow shortly after. In the 2018 season, the Cardinals placed third out of 11 in the conference, with particularly impressive performances from Sara Pinsonault ‘20, Lopez-Anido, and Emma Trapani ’21.
“I think we are going to crush this season,” said Nagler.
With the team’s tireless work and collaborative culture, she may be right.
Annie Roach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.