BRIDGEWATER, Va. - The Bridgewater College women's cross country team finished fifth at the ODAC Championships and 13th at the NCAA South/Southeast Region Championships last year and are looking to exceed expectations as top contenders in the conference in 2017.
Bridgewater earned a first-place vote and a total of 91 points to rank fourth in the 2017 ODAC Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll. Conference rival Washington and Lee was picked as the strong favorite to win the conference again after receiving ten first-place votes and a total of 120 points to top the polls.
Head Coach Brian Flynn remains confident because of the dedication of his runners.
"It's about what we expected," said Flynn, "The guys and girls are going to be hungry and want to run faster regardless of what they're ranked."
The team also has some returners that are going to bring the experience necessary to be successful.
"The team had a really good end of the track season for our distance runners," Flynn said, "So I think we are really going to build on that track season and hopefully run better."
A key returner for the women's team is sophomore Calista Ariel. Ariel had a successful freshman season, finishing in the 31st spot on a time of 25:36.9 at the ODAC Championships and 31st with a time of 25:36.9 at the Regional Championships.
"She did very well during track," Flynn commented, "It was a huge transition for her during cross country so we didn't really see anywhere near her potential last fall."
"She's very young running wise so she is going to have a lot of growth and development to go through," Flynn said, "So whether it's this year, or next year, or years to come she will be good."
The 2017 schedule features some new courses that the team has never traveled to in years past. One includes the Royals XC Challenge, held in Charlotte, N.C. on Sept. 29.
"It's the same as the high school Foot Locker course so it's going to be relevant for a lot of those kids to run there again and see how they've progressed since high school."
Bridgewater will begin the season Sept. 1 with a home meet held on campus. The Eagles Cross Country Challenge will feature a women's 4k at 3:00 p.m. and a men's 5k at 3:45 p.m. The Eagles next big race will be on Sept. 15 when they travel to Virginia Tech for the Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational.
The 2017 ODAC Championships, hosted by Virginia Wesleyan, is set for Oct. 28 in Virginia Beach, Va.