The last time the Bates Women’s Cross Country team had a better finish in the NESCAC Championships, the most popular song was Billy Idol’s, “Mony Mony”, and the top movie in the box office was The Running Man, starring none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Zac Efron, Kevin Jonas and Blake Lively were just weeks old.
Cross Country came in 3rd place in the 2016 NESCAC Championship meet, which they haven’t done since 1987.
The team was paced by the usual suspects, Jessica Wilson ‘17 and Katherine Cook ‘18, finishing in 9th and 14th place respectively. Their excellent performances in the meet earned them both second-team All-NESCAC honors. But the dynamic duo has been dominant all season.
“We both have very high expectations and work very hard,” Cook said of her relationship with her fellow superstar teammate. “Knowing that Jess is never going to give up, pushes me even harder in practice and races.”
Wilson reciprocated the sentiment. She said in an email, “Katherine is a positive force, and makes me feel like we can accomplish anything as long as we work together.
Running just behind Wilson and Cook was Katie Baker ‘19, who finished 16th overall. Placing three runners in the top 16 is a testament to the team’s stellar depth.
In addition, Molly Chisholm ‘17 finished in 34th place, and Olivia LaMarche finished in 39th. In Cross Country, the top five runners on each team determine the collective score. The Bobcats’ score was a 109 which placed them just ahead of Middlebury, but behind Williams and Tufts.
Days after the meet, Coach Hartshorn received NESCAC coach of the year honors for the first time in her 12 year tenure at Bates. Before coming to Bates, Hartshorn attended Colby College. A Government major, she was an academic All-American in Cross Country, and three time All-American in indoor track.
Cook thought it was about time that Hartshorn finally won coach of the year. “She (Hartshorn) is a phenomenal coach,” Cook articulated. “She instills a sense of confidence in the team, gets to know all her players, and is very approachable. Coach is especially good at managing fatigue and preventing injuries.”
In the most recent Division three rankings, Bates was chosen as the number eight team in the country. Why has the team been so successful this season? Cook attributes it to their pack mentality. Just like Bobcats in the wild, the runners stick together as they grind through races. This gives them a mental edge, and is only made possible by their great depth.
Women’s Cross Country will continue their historic season at NCAA Regionals in Westfield, Massachusetts on November 12. A top 2 finish will qualify the team for nationals, but an at large bid may be in the cards as well. Typically between four and seven teams are chosen to represent New England at the national meet.
Cook is confident about her team heading into Regionals. She said late Sunday afternoon, “we don’t really need to change anything up. As long as we do what we have done all season, we will have a good chance at qualifying.”
As for how she feels about nationals, Cook is not looking ahead just yet. The team has preached a one race at a time mentality all season.
As long as the Bobcats stay in their pack, anything is possible.