BRIDGEWATER, Va. – The young women's cross country team is prepared to make a push for its fourth conference championship in six years at ODACs on Saturday.
Bridgewater entered the 2016 season with the difficult challenge of replacing seven seniors, but has shown constant improvement throughout the regular season.
At the Don Cathcart Invitational (Oct. 1), the Eagles finished fourth out of 12 teams and placed three athletes within the top 20.
Senior Erin Quinn recorded a big PR time of 23:41.98 for 11th place, freshman Calista Ariel crushed her first collegiate 6k on a time of 23:47.12, and junior Maryellen Hauver also ran a career-best time of 24:03.42 to come in 17th.
During its most recent meet, BC claimed second in the non-DI field at the Christopher Newport Invite (Oct. 15).
Rookie Magdalene Mann led the Eagles in her first full-distance race after clocking in at 24:16 for 10th place. Quinn (24:31), Sarah Wright (24:40), Ariel (24:40) and Hauver (24:54) ran as a pack to finish 12-13-14-15.
"We are really unsure who the No. 1 runner is going to be," said head cross country coach Brian Flynn about the depth on the women's team. "One through six are super close. Their spread at CNU was around 30 seconds, so I think that anyone could be the No. 1 runner."
Washington and Lee was predicted to repeat as conference champs in the preseason, while Bridgewater and Roanoke were projected to finish 2-3.
W&L will host the conference race in Buena Vista, Va. at the Vista Links Golf Course. The course is 99.5% grass with some paved cart path crossings and features a gently rolling 2000 meter loop.
"I think that the course is a huge equalizer no matter who's the favorite," Flynn said. "There is a lot of things that can go wrong on a course like this, so the variables and the percentage chance of failure and success go way up."
The women's race time is set for 11:00 a.m.