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Women's Cross Country Preview: Bobcats No. 8 in New England

Co-captain Abby Samuelson '10 (left) and Esther Kendall '10 (center) are among the top runners hoping to move Bates further up the regional rankings. (Photo by Tom Leonard '78)

In the fall of 2007, the women’s cross country team accomplished its second consecutive top-10 finish at the NCAA Division III New England Regional Championship. Bates' top seven runners competed to finish ninth out of 47 teams, and only one point out of eighth. The team also showed great depth when its second seven placed sixth out of 31 teams at the ECAC Championship.

Jay Hartshorn, entering her fourth season as head coach of the team, was pleased with last year's performances, and says the team will aim for bigger things this year. The Bobcats begin the season ranked No. 8 in New England by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, and will host No. 3-ranked Colby in a dual meet at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester this Saturday.

“We’d like to move up in the NESCAC and NCAA New England Regional Championship, and we’d also like to string together as many regional top 10 finishes as possible,” Hartshorn said. “We have a number of talented upperclassmen, so this might be the year that we can make the jump to the top 5-7 at the regional meet,” Hartshorn said.

The top returners this season are co-captains Allie Goldstein ’09 and Abby Samuelson ’10, Katie Bash ’10, Esther Kendall ’10 and Jen Mitton ’11. Kendall placed 47th on the 6-kilometer course at New Englands (23:00.1), just ahead of Mitton (23:04.1, 51st) and Samuelson.

Bash was the Bates’ first finisher at ECACs, placing 25th out of more than 200 runners (24:04.8). Among the other top seven competitors for the Bobcats at ECACs were Alexandria Alberto ’11 (24:05.9, 26th), Elizabeth Rowley ’11 (24:14.6, 31st), Chloe Bourne ’11 (25:09.5, 62nd) and co-captain Alison Leonard ’10 (25:47.7, 83rd).

Hartshorn doesn’t limit her high hopes to last year’s top runners. “We always have at least one senior who is a big surprise and has a huge year, so it will be exciting to see who can make the jump in 2008,” Hartshorn said.

Hartshorn also expects some talented recruits to step up to the line, some of whom have the potential to run in the top seven and top 14 slots on the team.

Hartshorn designs workouts for the runners to follow in the summer off-season. “This summer we’ve been working on doing distance runs faster,” Hartshorn said. “We need to vary the pace of run a bit more and make sure that we are running hard and also having the right number of recovery days. Beyond that most of our training will be very similar to last year.”

The season started off with recognition of past runners as the team competes against Bates grads in the Alumni Meet on August 30th. The meet boasted the largest number of female alums ever in attendance.

On Nov. 1, Bates will host the NESCAC Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships at Pineland Farms.

Hartshorn and the team will have their sights on the NESCAC, ECAC and New England Championships from the start of the season. The summer training should give the team a strong start.

“Most of our women have had good summers in terms of training. We just need to build on the summer training and focus on getting better week to week,” Hartshorn said. “The first meets are really just to gauge where you are and what you need to work on. What really matters is how we run at the end of the year.”