By: Mateo De Dalmases
This past Saturday, the SFU cross country women’s team had their last race of the season, picking up a tenth spot at the national championships in a year in which they had won four of the seven meets they’ve competed in.
Led by senior Julia Howley at every race, the women have been able to wrap up a cross country season which head coach Brit Townsend has worded as “the best year we’ve ever had.”
A great team effort was present at every race, and the NCAA Championships was not an exception. Julia Howley (15th) and Miryam Bassett (24th) attained All-American honours in arguably their best performances they have ever had in cross country. The depth of the field at the NCAA DII Championships is huge and it really requires each athlete to be at their best if they want to achieve something as ambitious as an All-American performance.
Howley’s consistency has been remarkable the entire season. It is not easy to perform great on the biggest day of the season, especially when knowing that you have to put an extreme amount of effort, both physically and mentally, in order to be ready for it. With such a performance, Howley has shown that her talent is not only physical, but also mental.
Meanwhile, Bassett’s progression throughout the season is also noteworthy. She has moved up consistently at each of the seven races of the season, peaking for the two most important races, the regional championships and national championships.
The third woman to cross the finish line was freshman Olivia Willett in 66th. Willett has completed an impressive first year, which is very encouraging for the team as the top two runners (Howley and Bassett) are seniors and will not be competing for SFU in future cross country seasons.
Chelsea Ribeiro and Sophie Dodd completed the scoring squad for the race, in 136th and 156th positions, respectively. Both of their performances were crucial to obtain the top 10 finish as the team was only nine points in front of Colorado Mines, who ended up in 11th overall.
Paige Nock and Calli Charlton completed the team with 176th and 215th positions in a race that junior Addy Townsend could not run due to a rolled ankle earlier in the week. Townsend had been a solid third runner throughout the season, and the team definitely missed her on the national stage. Coach Brit Townsend stated at the end of the race that she was “very happy with the team’s finish considering the circumstances,” implying that the goal was to do better than that, but there are certain things, especially in this sport, which you can’t control.
SFU’s cross country teams will be taking a short break from racing and switch the focus in preparation for the indoor and outdoor seasons that will begin in January of next year.