Owl Women Harriers Climb in National Poll
'KEENE, N.H. 10/11/06 - The steep incline of hills in Swanzey's Yale Forest provides the Keene State women's cross country team with a picturesque, yet challenging workout.
"It's nice out there, but we don't look forward to it," said Rita Marcotte, one of 14 freshmen on the team. "Nothing comes easy and we know it's going to help us become better runners."
While scaling the hills of Yale Forest is no run in the park, the Owls certainly enjoyed an unexpected climb in the national Division III polls this week. A strong performance at Saturday's New England Championships landed Keene State in 14th place in the poll, the programs' best ranking ever.
"If everyone ran up to their capability, I knew we'd have a good race," said longtime KSC Coach Peter Thomas. "Now we just have to stay healthy."
The Owls, who finished 10th overall and fifth among Division III competitors, have gradually ascended the tough terrain and become a team to be reckoned with in the region.
"We had an amazing day," said Jennifer Adams, who is bidding for her second cross country All-America honor. "If we run the same way at the NCAA regional qualifying meet, we'd earn a spot at the nationals."
Although the Owls have had several individual runners qualify for the NCAAs, including Mary Proulx and Adams, KSC has yet to send a women's team to the championships.
Keene State has been led by the talented tandem of Breanne Lucey and Adams, who placed seventh and 10th respectively at the New England meet. Behind them is a solid supporting class that includes Stephanie Westcott, Sophie Holly, and newcomers Sarah Miller and Marcotte.
"We're fortunate to have a pair of front-runners like Bre and Jenn," said Miller, a two-time track All-American, who is making her first trip around the trails. "They're hard work and determination rubs off on the rest of the team."
"The upperclassman are really motivated and the there's more competition among the newcomers," Holly added. "We know the team has a lot of potential and everyone is working hard to make sure we don't let this opportunity get a way from us."
The Owls will be looking to make up ground in the weeks ahead. Next Saturday, the team will race at the RPI Invitational in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., before returning home to host the Little East Championships on Oct. 28.
"We just have to stay after it," Thomas said. "We still have a long way to go. There's no championship for finishing first halfway through the race."