Following a tremendous track and field season, where numerous distance runners performed at a national level and broke several school records, the women’s cross country team is hoping to see even more progress this fall. Although two runners in the top seven graduated last year, coach Jennifer Hartshorn feels confident that her returning athletes, led by captains Jess Wilson ‘17  and Molly Chisholm ‘17, will continue to improve this season. Other returning runners include Katherine Cook ‘18, who broke the 5,000 meter outdoor track school record with a blistering time of 17:26.66, and Mary Szatkowski, who was a consistent member of the top seven during last year’s cross country season. Wendy Memishian ‘19 and Katie Barker ‘19, will also be very competitive this season.

“We will have a deep team, which will help us to push each other to improve,” Hartshorn explains. “Everyone has someone to work with this season which is great.”

After a strong fifth place performance at the NESCAC championships during last year, Hartshorn hopes that the team’s ability to place among the top five of a nationally renowned conference, along with their impressive depth, will bring better state and regional finishes this year.

“Our first real test will be our home meet on September 17. We hope to once again be in the mix with the really competitive teams,” said Hartshorn.

The team opened their season with their annual wave race against Colby. Unphased by an unfamiliar course, challenging hilly terrain and intense humidity, the women’s cross country dominated their season opener, defeating Colby by an impressive score of 80-30 on Saturday September 12.

The meet, which took place along the Quarry Trails in Waterville, Maine spanned a 2.44 mile course and was split up between class years. The sophomores and seniors competed against each other and the first years and juniors ran together.

Captain Jess Wilson ‘17, led the sophomore/senior race by a strong margin, finishing with an impressive time of 14:41 over the 2.44 mile course. Her performance was the fastest time of the day. Fellow captain Molly Chisholm ‘17 led an impressive pack that included four other runners, all of whom finished in the top five. Chisholm finished second with a time of 15:52, followed closely behind by a group of three sophomores, all finishing within 10 seconds of each other. This tight pack included Wendy Memishian ‘19 and Katie Barker ‘19.

Katherine Cook ‘18 and Mary Szatkowski ‘18, tied for first in the first year/junior race, and ran identical times of 15:36. Following close behind and making her cross country debut was Olivia LaMarche ‘20, who finished third with a time of 15:48. Callie Reynolds ‘18 and Megan Clark ‘20 were also among the top five finishers for Bates.

“Given the tough conditions and our strong performance, this meet was definitely a confidence boost for both us and our Coach,” Wilson said. “Our strengths largely came from working together in packs of two or three against the tough course, pushing each other to run faster.”

The team hopes to continue to see success as they host the Bates Invitational next Saturday, September 17, at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Maine.