MEDFORD - The Tufts Women's Cross Country team will compete in their first meet at the Bates Invitational in Gloucester, Maine on Saturday at 11 a.m.
The Jumbos enter the 2018 season ranked fourth in New England Regional Pre-Season Rankings after the success they strung together a season ago.
|Senior Olivia Barnett is looking to be one of the Jumbos top scorers|
Coach Kristen Morwick enters her 18th season at the helm of the Women's Cross Country Team. Last season she coached the Jumbos to the best placing amongst the NESCAC teams in the NCAA Championships. Morwick has led the Jumbos to the NCAA Championships in each of the past four seasons.
Morwick stated, "Our goals for the season are to stay healthy and improve over the course of the next two months."
Tufts finished within the top three three times in the 2017 campaign. One of these meets was the NESCAC Championships in which they placed third out of 11 teams. The Jumbos then went on to place second amongst the 56 teams that competed in the NCAA Regionals. Tufts qualified for the NCAA Championships with that second place finish in the Regionals. Tufts a week later placed seventh amongst the 32 teams that competed in the NCAA Championships last year.
All-American Brittany Bowman graduated this past May which opens more opportunities for runners to provide an impact this season. Bowman finished fifth overall in the NESCAC Championships and 11th overall in the NCAA Championships.
The Jumbos bring back the "Killer B's" in seniors Natalie Bettez and Olivia Barnett who consistently placed in the top three spots last fall. Bettez was First Team All-NESCAC after finishing sixth overall at the conference championship, 11th at Regionals, and 76th in the NCAA Championships. Barnett made Second Team All-NESCAC after clocking the 13th best time in the conference championships, 14th at Regionals, and 59th in the NCAA Championships. Senior Kelsey Tierney will also return for the Jumbos after finishing in the top seven consistently a season ago.
Coach Morwick added this about how the program maintains a high level of success. "We are able to maintain success due to the athletes on our team leaving a legacy of hard work and high expectations that set the bar high for each incoming class," she said. "We have been able to recruit good athletes who become great runners over the course of four years. Staying relatively injury free and healthy have been keys to our success."
Other Jumbos who return that consistently placed in the top seven last season include junior Lydia Heeley and sophomore Carly Curcuru. Both Heeley and Curcuru will look to take another step forward this upcoming season.
"This team right now is a bit of an unknown and we have been ranked lower than some of our top competitors in NESCAC and New England," Morwick said. "We will likely have a bit of a slow start, but once we put the pieces together, I can see this team being as successful if not more successful than last year's team. We have great senior leaders, who have experience competing at a high level. We also have enough depth so that no one person will feel the pressure to carry the team at any point in the season."
The Jumbos will partake in seven meets this season. They will have three in September, three in October, and one in November. They hope to have an eighth which would be the NCAA Championships in November.
"I think going in again as underdogs isn't a bad thing," the coach said. "We're always up for proving the pundits wrong!"
Written By Athletic Communications Intern Bryan Costello