Swarthmore Women’s Cross Country has started off the season strong, finishing second and fourth at the Bryn Mawr Invitational and Mainline Invite, respectively. The team welcomes seven first-years and fourteen returners to compete in the 2019 season.
Last season, Swarthmore finished third in the Centennial Conference Championships and had a good showing at regionals. With only two seniors graduating in Spring 2019, the team is primed for another great season.
Emma Novak ’21 led the team at the Mainline Invite, finishing twelfth overall and second among DIII runners with a time of 18:10 on the 5k course. Nora Blodgett ’22 and captain Phoebe Whiteside ’20 also have had impressive finishes in the first two races, finishing first and second for the Garnet at the Bryn Mawr Invitational and second and third at the Mainline Invite.
However, the first years are not to be ignored, as they have already shown that they will be imperative to the team’s efforts. Tillie Ferguson ’23 broke the top five in both races, and Clara Halston ’23 and Ella Shenkar ’23 were the sixth and seventh finishers for the Garnet at the Bryn Mawr Invitational. Coach Peter Carroll stressed the importance of this first-year class for the rest of the team’s season.
“The first years are doing great, and we will rely on them for immediate contributions this Fall,” Carroll said.
The team is led by captains Pauline McMurry ’20, Hanna Gutow ’20 and Phoebe Whiteside, who are excited to lead the relatively young group of runners.
“I think having a young team is really great because it means the team can continue to be successful in the future,” said Gutow. “The other captains and I this year have worked really hard to introduce all the underclassmen to the type of positive and supportive team environment we would like to see maintained over the next few years.”
Returner Sierra Sweeney ’21 shared these sentiments about maintaining the vibrant team culture that has been present since she arrived at Swarthmore.
“I would say that my goal for the team is always to make our team culture as great as possible,” said Sweeney. “We have so many amazing people on the team, and we really look out for each other and try hard to maintain the care within our community every season.”
Coach Carroll is eager to see the team continue to evolve as a unit throughout the season but already sees their passion and dedication to one another.
“Their work ethic is tremendous and all the team members are really looking out for each other,” said Carroll.
Unlike other Fall sports, cross country only has a few events throughout the season, making Centennial Conference Championships at the forefront of the team’s goals.
“I’m definitely looking forward to going to Gettysburg and kicking butt at conferences this year,” said Sweeney.
Other than the collective team goal of a top finish at the conference meet at Gettysburg on November 2nd, Gutow is also focused on some individual goals for her final season of cross country.
“I would love to get some new PRs, especially in our next meet, which tends to be one of the fastest, and I want to be able to contribute to the team’s scoring as the season continues,” she said.
The team looks to their next meet, the Paul Short Invite at Lehigh University, on October 5, where they hope for another strong showing. The tight-knit group will definitely be one to watch throughout the fall, not only for their dominance on the race course but also for their unyielding support for each other.
“We love to race and we love doing well in races, but at the end of the day, running means more to us than just winning: it’s about being surrounded by awesome teammates,” said Sweeney.