One week after strong racing at the Battle of Beantown, the Cornell women’s cross country team took to the line again, traveling to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to compete in the Paul Short Run.
Highly regarded across the country, the Paul Short Run boasts a premier course along with the highest attendance of any intercollegiate cross country meet. The event, hosted by Lehigh, holds multiple collegiate division six-kilometer races, broken up into several different divisions. Cornell competed in the most competitive, the gold division, and took sixth in a 42-team field.
The pressure of a large field did not phase the Cornell women, as the group posted the second-best performance on the course in program history.
“I was very pleased with the competitiveness that we displayed,” said head coach Artie Smith ’96. “Once again, we established great position early on in the race, and I thought the team competed fearlessly.”
The Red’s top five scoring runners — made up of three seniors, one junior and one freshman — completed the invitational with several new personal records. All three senior tri-captains made up the top five and were key to Cornell’s success. The upperclassmen set a high standard for their team, proving the squad has the experience of seasoned veterans to perform consistently as a whole.
Senior tri-captain Erin McLaughlin led the Red with a 17-second personal best, placing 27th with a time of 20:23. Not far behind was freshman Gabrielle Orie, who claimed a new freshman record to place 36th with a time of 20:39. Senior tri-captains Shannon Hugard and Jackie Katzman took the third and fourth positions, respectively, for Cornell, and Hugard set a personal record by 25 seconds, running 20:43 for 39th place. Katzman took 69th in 20:59, and junior Briar Brumley closed out the scoring in 21:02, good for 75th.
“Something that our team has been great about is getting into great position for the first mile,” Katzman said. “We’re still working on closing out the race as well as our starts have been, but with a little more training under our belts and more race experiences, I’m confident that we’ll be able to put the whole race together.”
The top five scorers were within 28 seconds from first to fifth, making this race the closest spread of the season. It will be important come championship weekend that the group run as a cohesive pack to score low and place high.
“It is rare to race on back-to-back weekends in NCAA cross country and it isn’t easy,” Smith said. “They did a terrific job to get after it two Fridays in a row.”
The Paul Short Run, along with other highly-attended invitationals across the country, marked the first big weekend in collegiate cross country. Performances from teams this weekend provide coaches and athletes with an idea of who to look out for, and what changes to make in training and preparation going into the championship meets that lie just around the corner.
“The team is on a very good trajectory with their training and racing,” Smith said. “They’re getting better each week with the fitness and capability, and I feel very, very good about where we will be at the championship stage of the season in a month.”