Staying undefeated against a field of 47 teams was going to be tough, no matter who the competition was, let alone a field including nationally-ranked competitors. The Cornell women’s cross-country team could not do it, but its fifth-place performance was certainly impressive.
Led once again by a trio of freshmen, the Red finished behind invitational winner Columbia (ranked 20th nationally), second-place Georgetown (26th), third-place Tennessee (18th) and four points behind fourth-place finisher, Maryland, at Lehigh’s Paul Short Invitational on Saturday. The squad also crossed the finish line ahead of sixth-place Villanova (eighth) and previously nationally-ranked LaSalle.
“The team did amazing, particularly under the circumstances,” said senior captain Angela Kudla. “The freshmen have showed that they can handle the pressure of a few injuries.”
With Kudla and junior Nyam Kagwima slowed down by illness, and senior Christy Planer unavailable due to a shin injury, the squad’s impressive showing was never certain. But, Cornell’s strong finish, despite not having its top-3 runners at 100 percent, not only reveals the team’s depth, but it’s growing potential as a national powerhouse.
“I think I just got really dehydrated before the race,” Kudla said, who along with Kagwima, took antibiotics before the competition started. “It got really hot in the middle of our race – I don’t remember half of the race.”
Executing its strategy of running as a group excellently, the Red’s runners finished only 32.3 seconds apart from one another, the lowest time differential between any of the top-30 finishing teams’ runners. The Cornell top-5 also improved its time by 40 seconds from last week’s victory at the Iona Meet of Champions.
Finishing first for Cornell was freshman Marie Parks, who placed 26th overall (21:18.9). Classmates Danielle Schaub (44th overall, 21:39.8) and Aeriel Emig (51st, 21:46.8) were right behind her, and ran together for most of the race.
“I thought we did real well considering we had a lot of injuries,” Parks said. “It works well for us to run as a group.”
The first-year runner was battling a minor achilles injury coming into the race, and contracted food poisoning after it.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to training again soon,” Parks said.
Juniors Toni-Lynn Salucci (21:47.5) and Christy Paul (21:51.2) placed 52nd and 57th respectively, finishing right behind the freshmen.
“I think everyone is looking forward to this weekend, not having a meet and getting some rest,” Kudla said.
Cornell also had a “B” team compete in the Women’s Open competition of the Invitational, which had 310 finishers from 45 schools. Had the Red not been entered in the collegiate competition with its “A” team, its “B” team would have had the best score in the Open competition. Although the “B” team’s score could not be counted, the runners’ accomplishments remain nevertheless.
Freshmen Katie Roll placed eighth (22:11), and sophomore Mary Maleta placed 14th (22:20). Junior Robyn Ellerbrock placed 17th (22:33), freshman Shannon Crane placed 20th (22:38) and junior Ruth Morgan finished right behind in 21st (22:39).
Archived article by Josh Perlin
Sun Staff Writer