This past Saturday, Oct. 22, the Elizabethtown College women’s cross country team dominated the competition during the annual Battle for the Buggy Invitational. Although alumna Megan VanDenHengel won the race for the second year in a row, first-year Amelia Tearnan was quick to finish the 4K for Etown, crossing the line at 17:24.34.
A total of five Blue Jays finished the race in the top 10. Tearnan led junior Taryn Shank and first-year Ashley Underkofler, the third and fourth spots, respectively; sophomore Abby Mitchell and junior Sarah Steinmetz grabbed the eighth and ninth places to secure Etown’s first-place win.
According to sophomore Eileen Cody, Battle for the Buggy is fun for Etown because the alumni form teams and compete in the race. Also, “six runners will not be running, so it will give other members of the team a chance to show their skills and what they have been working towards all season,” Cody explained.
In addition to their success at Battle for the Buggy, the Blue Jays performed well in the Princeton Invitational on Oct. 15. Even though the team faced tough competition at the invitational from runners from Division I schools such as Yale University, St. Joseph’s University and Monmouth University, Etown was still able to grab an eighth-place finish. Sophomore Traci Tempone led the team by clocking her fastest 6K time of the season with a 22:52. Tempone came in eleventh-place overall, and sophomore Megan Tursi also contributed to the team’s success with a time of 23:54; good for thirtieth place.
The Battle for the Buggy was the team’s last competitive meet before the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Championships, which will be held in Grantham, Pa. at Messiah College. The women will be looking to defend their multiple MAC titles–they have captured four consecutive wins from 2007-2010. With their success at the Battle for the Buggy and at the Princeton Invitational, it looks like another championship will return to Etown.
However, Cody stated that these recent wins do not ensure a MAC victory, so the team cannot become too complacent with these past meets. When mentioning Etown’s performance during the Princeton Invitational, Cody said, “It was a good feeling, but it also put into perspective how much harder we do still need to work. One of our main competitors in the region, Haverford, was also at Princeton, and beat us. We know that we have to continue our forward momentum to give them a good challenge at Regionals.”
One runner sure to continue with her momentum is Tempone. Not only did she have Etown’s top time in the Princeton Invitational, but she was named MAC Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Week because of her stellar performance. Tempone received this award earlier in the season for her second-place finish at the Lebanon Valley Dutchmen Invitational in September. She ran the 5K in 19:07.4, and in all of the races she has competed in thus far, she has been Etown’s top finisher.
Regardless, Tempone is not the only key to success for the Blue Jays. Cody named Tearnan, Tursi, first-years Underkofler and Sarah Vaughn, sophomore Laurie Jones and junior Megan Patton as solid assets to the team as well. Still, “it will take an honest effort from every member of the team and a drive to succeed from everyone,” Cody explained about winning MACs. “In cross country, there is no runner that does not contribute to the team in some way.”