While the rest of campus was leaving for the summer, the women’s cross country team was just starting their long road, which for some of them has been three years of hard work and dedication. Led by a strong group of 11 seniors, the team knew where they wanted to go and exactly how they needed to get there.
Nationals was within the team’s grasp once before, and this year they are determined to not let it slip away again.
‘The closest we came to qualifying in the last three years was two years ago when we placed sixth at the regional meet,” captain and senior Heather Graham said. ‘The committee only looks at the top five when deciding who goes to Nationals. With each race this season, our goal is closer to becoming a reality.”
And if last weekend’s New York State Collegiate Track Conference Cross Country Championships was an indication, the Yellowjackets are in prime condition to make that trek to Nationals a reality at long last. They finished this year in third at NYSCTC last weekend at Genesee Valley Park. The women edged out Ithaca College by one point. The Yellowjackets finished with 79 points overall.
Sophomore Lauren Norton led the charge by running one of the top 50 best times ever for a 5K at GVP with a 18:50.
And while it is often only the scoring runners who make the headlines, Graham is quick to give the whole team credit.
‘Our success this year is because of everybody on the team, [No.] 1 through 29,” she said. ‘Our team is really strong and the order in which we finish a race changes on any given day. Each girl pushes the girl in front of her, which keeps us all on our toes.”
The team has two meets left before the regional meet on Nov. 21 at Letchworth State Park, which could potentially qualify them for Nationals. The women are gearing up to make the race everything that the past four years of training and preparation have built up to, with all of their hard work finally paying off.
‘As that date gets closer we are in great shape to achieve our goal,” Graham said.
The women’s cross country team races this weekend at the University Athletic Association Championships in Cleveland, Ohio.
Clark is a member of the class of 2012.