BY ALEX THOMAS | PHOTO BY CHRISTINE WEINARD
These young women aren’t just fast, they are some of the fastest to ever run at Edgewood. This statement is made regardless of the result at the Women’s Cross Country Midwest Conference Championships on October 29th.
The team was looking to defend their 2015 Conference title, but fell short by just six points to Aurora University. Aurora has won the event in four of the past five years, losing only to our own Edgewood Eagles last year.
“One of the best things is that our team finally got noticed and was regionally ranked for the first time ever in school history” says Coach Bethany Brewster.
Prior to the Conference race, The Edgewood Women’s cross country team got their first ever regional ranking as the eighth ranked team in the Midwest according to the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Even with their second place finish, they held onto their eighth-ranked spot in their region.
Jenny Larson, senior co-captain, spoke on the team’s mindset, “I’m not at all surprised with how well we are performing. Every year we get more competitive, and that means we are getting better as a team. The success we have gotten has only brought us closer together, and made us want to work harder for the team goal at Nationals.”
The team is well traveled. They set multiple personal records during their trip to Sewall, N.J., where they placed 22nd out of 45 schools, 13 of these teams were nationally ranked. Larson, Natasha Zanoya, and Piper Atnip each finished in the top 100 of the 386 runners at the event.
When looking back on the season, the girls got a big boost by making sure their spirits are high at all times.
“Whether we are the first girl to cross the line or the last, our teammates are right there cheering us on and letting us know how proud they are”, says Melanie Smrstick, a senior on the team.
This team is looking towards their goals to the finish of this year, but has the depth that will provide consistent success going forward. Taylor Mair was a freshman standout as a top 5 runner for the team along with other promising freshmen.
A junior co-captain Alyse Peters and junior Ashley Harnack are also top runners that should be returning next season, both have been major contributors to the team this year.
Looking to the future, Brewster emphasized the team will have great leadership with Peters:
“She continually gets better because she puts in the work to be her best. She is a captain who is a great leader in so many ways. A dream story for a coach.”
The team is still trying to keep their spirits high, and while the goal of getting the team to nationals has certainly become harder, there is still optimism buzzing around the locker room.
“I would say the team has a shot,” said Brewster, “It might be an outside one, but it’s the first time in school history we’ve been able to talk and discuss the opportunity in front of us.”
The team races in the Regional Championship on Saturday, November 12th at Winneconne, Wisconsin, hosted by UW-Oshkosh.