Women's XC charges towards regional championships

By Mark Thomson

Led by Tara McCoy ’11, the women’s cross country team finished ninth at the MIAC Championships on Oct. 30. McCoy finished 25th overall out of 266 runners en route to obtaining honorable mention all conference honors for the second time in as many years. Libby Tollefson ’11 said was proud of McCoy’s performance.

“Tara raced confidently,” Tollefson said. “She knew what she was doing and held her own. In the last 200 meters, she made up ground to get honorable mention. She was really competitive.”

With her honorable mention all conference finish, McCoy accomplished her personal goal.

“Individually, I was hoping to run in the top 25,” she said.

After McCoy, the team’s next four runners all finished within five seconds and eight places of one another. This pack running strategy helped the runners stay comfortable and focused.

“Having the cluster of the runners in an actual race really helps you because you trust your teammates to set the pace,” Tollefson said. “It’s cool to pass runners with a large group.”

The team took a very methodical approach in its preparation method, making sure that the runners would be at their peak at just the right time.

“We tapered a bit, backing off of the hard workouts and cutting back on our mileage,” McCoy said. “We also talked a lot as a team about our goals and expectations for the day. Our coach led us through some visualization exercises which were really helpful.”

Coach Betsy Emerson explained that every meet and training session led up to this meet.

“From the moment we started in August this race was in the back of our mind,” Emerson said.

However, physical preparation could only go so far. The runners needed to make sure that their heads were in the right place when October 30 rolled around. McCoy explained how the team really came together mentally in time for the race.

“The day of the race the captains called a pep rally in the locker room, and one of our captains performed an inspirational mash up of Eminem songs which seemed to get everyone really excited and ready to go,” McCoy said.

The team remains focused for this Saturday’s Central Region Championships. Emerson has implemented a similar regimen as the one she utilized for the MIAC Championships.

“Last week we worked really hard and ramped it back up,” Emerson said. “This week we’ll taper off and allow them to rest and get themselves fresh.”

Tollefson said she is excited about the team’s chances this weekend.

“There’s not a huge gap between the competition in conference and the competition in regionals if we all perform well,” Tollefson said. “People are more ready to run now. I’d really like to finish in the top 10 or 12.”

Looking forward to next season, the team will graduate five seniors (McCoy, Tollefson, Sarah Ziegenhorn ’11, Robin Major ’11, and Caitlin Hannahan ’11.)

“They’re critical and we’re definitely going to miss them,” Emerson said. “We have a big void to fill, and they’ve made a huge contribution to cross country and track.”

However, there is room for optimism. Three out of the top five runners are underclassmen and the team is one of the largest on campus. McCoy believes there are big things in the team’s future.

“We are starting to truly believe that we belong in the top half of the MIAC,” Emerson said.

Emerson echoed these sentiments by setting lofty goals for future teams.

“Our goal is to be one of the best teams in the MIAC,” Emerson said. “Success breeds success. We need to create a winning culture and expect greatness.