Cross country teams earn perfect scores at annual home opener
The men’s and women’s cross country teams dominated during their annual home opener last Saturday against the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Both teams swept the first five places in their respective races at the Hanover Country Club.
Formerly named the Dartmouth Invitational, this year’s edition was the first with a new name. Barry Harwick ’77, the head coach of the men’s cross country program, initiated the idea of naming the invitational after Maribel Sanchez Souther ’96, a former coach and student-athlete for the women’s cross country team who passed away last December after a long battle with breast cancer.
Souther was an exceptional member of the women’s cross country team during her time at Dartmouth, garnering four All-American honors and seven Ivy League Championships. Souther was the first Dartmouth female runner to finish as an All-American in cross country.
Four years after graduating, Souther pursued a professional career in running and qualified for the 2000 Olympic Trials. However, injury rendered her unable to compete.
She returned to Dartmouth in 2002 as an assistant coach for the women’s cross country team. She became head coach a year later and remained in that position until she stepped down in 2010.
Those who knew Souther noted her excellent character as well as her athletic achievements during her time at Dartmouth.
“She was a great teammate, she was a wonderful person and always cared about other people,” Harwick said. “And she carried that over into her coaching as well.”
The women’s team honored Souther’s athletic excellence by achieving a perfect score during the meet. The women’s team posted a score of 15 points to UMass Lowell’s score of 50 points.
Leading the way for the women’s team during the meet was Olivia Lantz ’19, who took the individual title with a time of 21:33.15. Ella Ketchum ’21 was a close second, finishing the 6-kilometer course in 21:38.56.
The next three spots were occupied by Glennis Murphy ’21, Bridget O’Neill ’18 and Bridget Flynn ’18 in 22:00.01, 22:09.12 and 22:11.95 respectively. At the end of the day, the Big Green took the first 19 places.
“It was a good opportunity to get our team to mesh together after being separated during the summer,” Lantz said. “We knew that running on our home course can be a little tricky, but the fact we know the course well is advantageous.”
The men’s team achieved similarly impressive results to the women’s team, posting a score of 15 points.
Pat Gregory ’18 was the first finisher for the Big Green, completing the 8-km course in 24:56.82. Patrick O’Brien ’21 placed second with a time of 25:10.89 in his Big Green debut.
The next three finishers were, in order, Sander Kushen ’19 (25:24.30), Benjamin Matejka ’21 (25:24.82) and Sean Laverty ’20 (25:36.25).
The men’s and women’s teams have both won their first invitational meets since 2014.
The teams made sure to honor Souther’s legacy during the meet, holding a reception after the races to commemorate Souther and her contributions to the Dartmouth program.
“[Souther’s] husband and three children were here as well as a lot of other family members,” head coach of the women’s cross country team Courtney Jaworski said. “It was nice to reflect after the meet with everyone present.”
The coaches and players aim to expand the Maribel Sanchez Souther Invitational in the future.
“One of our goals going forward is to make it a larger event both to commemorate [Souther] and also to make it a more competitive meet for the students,” Harwick said.
The meet served as a good rust-buster for the season to come.
“It’s great to have a calm, low-key meet at home to get a feel for cross country racing again,” Lantz said. “I’m really excited for what’s to come, we have a strong group of girls who work well together.”
Both teams will return to competition on Friday, Sept. 22 at Boston College Invitational at Franklin Park in Boston, Mass.