If you haven’t started paying attention to this year’s women’s cross country team, it is about time you did. The squad finished 2nd out of 39 competing teams at a pre-national meet in Louisville, Kentucky last Saturday. Lead runners Jessica Wilson ‘17 and Katherine Cook ‘18 finishing in 9th and 12th place respectively, out of a 332-runner field.

All five scoring runners for the Bobcats finished in the top 42, as they clawed their way to an impressive finish that only the Flying Dutchmen of Hope College could top, one of the premier cross country programs in the Midwest. The 6K course the meet followed will also serve as the route for this year’s national championship meet, in E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park.

“It was a great opportunity to run the nationals course midseason. We are now able to start thinking ahead at the possibility of making it to nationals, and being able to preview the course and also excel as a team on the course was highly advantageous to us,” said Wilson.

The course relative to Bates’ home trail at Pineland Farms was flat, so changing their race plan accordingly keyed the exciting team result. “We had to adjust our race plan to be slightly less conservative and more brave in the first mile,” said Wilson.

In a sport that can at first glance seem to be all about individual ability, working together as a team, and specifically having runners push each other during the race, has been crucial to this team’s ability to effectively execute race plans and coming up with a series of impressive meet results so far this fall. “The strength of our team this year is that we have lots of women at the same ability levels,” said coach Jay Hartshorn. “We try to run our races together as much as we can until the end”

The team, travelling over a thousand miles away from campus, made sure to enjoy the chance to break out of the New-England bubble. It was actually an easy weekend of travel,” said Hartshorn. “On Friday we were able to sleep late, run the course and see some of the sites in Louisville. Being so far away helps leave the stress of Bates behind as many of the women had tests and papers last week.”

“We made the best out of the trip by adventuring around Louisville the day before the race and bonding as a team through the trials and tribulations of airport TSA,” quipped Wilson. If this team has any more problems with security in the future, after their performance on Saturday, we know they can simply outrun them.