Season Preview: Women's cross country looks for continued growth

HAVERFORD, Pa. – The Haverford College women's cross country team made its mark nationally in 2012 as it registered its sixth top 15 finish at nationals in program history. An experienced roster will look to build off last season's success with another consistent effort in 2013.

Senior Emily Scott, sophomore Nora Weathers and senior Chelsea Thorsheim--members of the 2012 All-Mideast Region squad--return from last year's top seven that helped the Fords finish second in the Centennial Conference and Mideast Region and 13th nationally. The runner-up finish at regionals was the 12th time in the last 13 years the Fords finished in the top four in the Mideast.

Scott finished 23rd at the Centennial championships in 2012 and then was Haverford's second scorer, 15th place overall, at the regional meet before competing for the third straight year at nationals. She also propelled the Fords to first in the long-course portion of the Dickinson Invitational during the regular season with a fifth-place finish.

A standout freshman campaign for Weathers included finishing 43rd in a field heavy on Division I runners at the Princeton Invitational to help the Fords be the top D-III finisher. Weathers, a member of the 2012 All-Mideast Region freshmen squad, did not slow down once championships came around as she was Haverford's third scorer at regionals (16th place) and nationals (107th).

Thorsheim also shined in the championship spotlight in 2012 as she placed 16th at the conference championships and later came through to be the Fords' final scorer at the national race to enable the Haverford's high finish.

Coach Fran Rizzo, in his 24th season, expects a handful of other veterans to step up and produce this year including junior Kelley Riffenburgh, senior Flora Berklein, sophomore Maggie Heffernan, senior Erin Seglem and junior Charlotte Lellman.

Berklein finished in the top 30 at the Centennial cross country meet last season and placed fifth in the 10,000 meter at last year's outdoor track conference meet. Riffenburgh, Heffernan and Seglem also ran well during the 2013 outdoor track season while Lellman delivered a new career-best time in the 3,000 meter during the 2012-13 indoor season.

Picked to finish second in the Centennial preseason poll, Haverford is also ranked second in the Mideast Region and 12th in all of D-III in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) preseason polls.

The Centennial expects to be as competitive as ever with defending national champion Johns Hopkins (first) and Dickinson (22nd) joining the Fords in the national preseason top 35.

Haverford begins the season on Aug. 30 at home when it welcomes Bryn Mawr College and Widener University for the Haverford Opener.