Cross-Country real Homecoming champs
The women's cross-country team turned New York's Van Cortlandt Park into their local park playground as they ran circles around the competition in winning their fourth straight Ivy Heptagonals Championship on Friday afternoon.
While three of Dartmouth's runners finished in the top five spots and five Big Green women finished in the top eight slots, the day belonged to senior Jenna Rogers '98, who captured her first Heps title with a time of 17:49:8. Rogers, an All-American runner in 1996, was the favorite in the 5-kilometer event and managed to hold off fellow Dartmouth runner Kelly Keene '01 by just one second.
"Winning Heps was very exciting for me, as it is something I have been aiming for all year," Rogers said. "Although we still have other meets to look forward to and to prepare for this season, the Heps is a meet we really get excited for, and it was amazing to finish on top."
Combining with Rogers and Keene in the top spots were Emily Dromgoole '01, who finished in fifth, Bethany Crenshaw '99 two seconds behind in sixth and Anne Devlin '99 finished eighth among the participants from all the Ivy League schools and Navy.
Dartmouth won the event with 23 points, equaling their own record set two years ago on the same course. That was easily good enough for the win as the next closest competitor, Cornell, finished with 74 points. Princeton was a distant third.
"We knew that as defending champions everyone would be watching out for us during the meet," Dromgoole said. "Although some of the other teams had good individuals, I think we knew that we would have the strongest pack by far. We were the only nationally ranked team in the meet and I think it showed."
"After a mile and a quarter of the race when we had five in the top ten, I knew we had it even though we still had 2 miles to go," Crenshaw said. "We were all together and that was a motivating factor in the back woods where it is easy to sleep."
Head Coach Ellen O'Neill was very pleased with the performance of her runners.
"We knew we had the capability of running well in this event, but to equal our scoring record from 1995 is incredible," O'Neill said. "I would have been pleased to see us in the 30s."
The result was particularly pleasing given the team's struggles earlier in the month at the New England Championships.
"We knew we were a better team than we showed at New England's," Crenshaw said. "We went into Heps to prove what kind of team we were. We were the only ranked team in the Ivy league and we wanted to prove that the rankings were accurate."
Aside from the overall result, one of the bright spots for the Big Green was the performance of the freshmen runners, who were outstanding in their first trip to Heps.
"I don't ever recall a team having two freshmen in the top five," O'Neill said of Keene and Dromgoole. "We had talked about trying to get them into the top 10, but they were confident of their ability and it showed today."
Dartmouth will not have long to celebrate their victory however as the team must now prepare for the NCAA district qualifier in two weeks at Boston's Franklin Park. From the teams competing there, only two will advance to the national championship meet. Unfortunately for Dartmouth, they have already lost to both Providence and Boston College this year, who will both be at the meet.
Still, the team feels that they are up to the challenge given the results from Friday.
"Comparing our results with the Big East results (which include Boston College and Providence) run earlier that day on the same course we feel very confident we can finish high in the district race, and if we can step to the next level we can win," Crenshaw said. "We had a very good team effort and are excited for what we can do next."
"To win Heps in this way is not only a great confidence booster, but it also lets other teams know that we are just as good, if not better, than last year and that we will be a top contender at NCAA's," Dromgoole said.
Devlin believes the team knows it should be a force at the district meet.
"When we compared our performance to those of Boston College and Providence at their league meets this weekend, I think we're very confident in how we can compete at the District meet," she said.
The success on the women's side was unparalled by the men's team, which finished a disappointing sixth behind four other Ivy League teams.
Geoff Nickerson '00 led the Big Green on the men's side, who will also run in the district championships in two weeks for a berth in the NCAA tournament.