Head coach John Furey said he wasn’t shocked when Emerson’s women’s cross-country team finished first in the Runnin’ Monks Invitational on Oct. 8.
Of the 43 runners in the meet at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine, four Lions placed in the top 10, and all seven of Emerson’s athletes reached the top 20. The team’s winning average time of 22:26.5 was 23 seconds faster than second-place University of Maine at Farmington.
“We thought we had a good shot at winning,” Furey said. “So it wasn’t really a surprise.”
Furey said that the lack of surprise on his part is because he knew of the weaker opponents that participated in the meet. He said he knew his squad had the upper hand, but added that the amount of runners on his roster is better than any in years past.
“If a couple of kids have an off-day, you know you have enough good kids that [will] pick up the slack, which we do have,” Furey said. “We have more depth than we probably ever have.”
Leading the pack for the Lions, in their first victory in a meet this season, was freshman Jeannette Mooney, whose time of 21:37 was good for second overall, and 21 seconds behind individual winner Sarah Curtin of St. Joseph’s.
Mooney said she had mixed feelings about the course, but seeing Curtin in front of her was a motivator.
“I always had someone to look at and try to catch up to,” Mooney, a writing, literature, and publishing major, said. “It was nice to actually have someone help me keep up my pace.”
In the same meet last year, Emerson placed fifth overall with an average time nearly a minute longer than this year’s performance.
The Lions top finisher last year, and 17th total, was then-sophomore Natalie Kenney. In this season’s meet, she ran two seconds slower, earned second on the team, and placed fifth overall.
Kenney said this race is on the top of her list.
“This is definitely my favorite course,” Kenney said. “You can really get in the zone and focus on your placement and your time.”
Kenney attends Massachusetts College of Art and Design as an illustration major. MassArt does not have an athletic program but gives students the opportunity to play for Emerson through an NCAA-approved consortium.
After their fourth-place finish at the Emmanuel Saints Invitational at Franklin Park on Oct. 14, the Lions have just over two weeks off until the New England Women’s and Men’s Championship on the 29th.
Learning from the victory at the Runnin’ Monks meet, Furey said the proximity of his runners to each other on the course is beneficial both statistically and strategically.
“We had a good pack, it was pretty close together which helps you score,” Furey said. “If you have that tight pack, there’s not a lot of other teams getting kids between you.”