Bethlehem, PA-The Brown University women's cross country team raced to an eighth place finish Friday at the Paul Short Invitational hosted by Lehigh University. Their 196 team points put them just behind Villanova and Providence College. Cornell University earned the title with 55 points.
Led by Coach Mitchell Baker, the squad faced tough competition from out-of-region teams but also from several standout Ivy League runners. "Given that this was the first race for 8 of the 10 women, we knew that the feeling of racing was going to feel a bit foreign," said women's cross country coach Mitchell Baker. "I thought the women did a very good job of being focused and executing a race strategy that fit with our current training."
The Bears placed three finishers in the top 20 out of a competitive field of 360 runners from 40 teams. Senior Olivia Mickle (Sacrameto, CA) led the squad in 11th place and a time of 20:37 across the muddy 6-kilometer course. Juniors Margaret Connelly (Chicago, IL) and Heidi Caldwell (Hanover, NH) followed in 17th (20:37) and 20th (20:57) respectively.
Sophomore Leah Eickhoff (Hanover, NH) ran a solid race finishing in 21:50 (73rd), and senior Elaine Kuckertz (Clarendon Hills, IL) crossed just after in 21:53 (78th). Sophomore Alexandra Conway (Manchester, NH) ran 22:11, good for 111th place, and was followed by senior Bree Shugarts (Lewistown, PA) with 22:20 (127th). Freshman runners, Victoria O'Neil (Boise, ID), Kate Buss (Blacksburg, VA), and Emily McGurrin (Manlius, NY) rounded out Brown's competitors for the day.
Looking to the next weeks of training and racing, "This gave us a lot of information going forward and the women were encouraged with how much better we were than a year ago both in their times and in their ability to compete, " said Baker. The squad will compete October 6th at the New England Championship meet next weekend.