Season Preview: Women's Cross Country Running on Tradition
HAVERFORD, Pa. – The Haverford College women's cross country team has been represented as a team at the NCAA Championships 14 times in program history, including each of the past five years. Head coach Fran Rizzo, the 2013 Centennial Conference Cross Country Coach of the Year, is entering his 25th season at Haverford in 2014 and he will look to build upon that tradition this coming fall.
The Fords appear to have the building blocks in place to carry on that tradition as five runners on this year's team have already competed in the NCAA Cross Country Championship. Junior Nora Weathers is the only two-time NCAA qualifier on the squad. She is the team's top returning finisher from last season as she placed 72nd overall at the 2013 NCAA Championship after finishing 107th in her freshman season. She is currently on pace to become just the fifth runner in program history to compete in the NCAA Cross Country Championships in all four seasons.
Weathers was a second-team All-Centennial Conference selection in 2013. Seniors Charlotte Lellman and Kelley Riffenburgh were also named second-team All-Centennial Conference last season. Riffenburgh placed 133rd overall in her NCAA cross country debut, while Lellman finished 160th in her first NCAA appearance. Katie Balmer also returns with NCAA experience under her belt as she placed 128th in the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Junior Maggie Heffernan also made her NCAA debut last fall, placing 161st in the national championship.
Haverford's 17th-place finish at the 2013 NCAA Championship marked the eighth time in program history the Fords have placed in the top 20. The Fords placed second overall in the Centennial Conference and fourth in the Mideast Regional last season.
Haverford has won three Centennial Conference Championships with the last one coming in 1996. The Fords have finished as the runner up in each of the last three seasons and 13 times overall. The team has not been outside of the top three teams in the conference since the 1999 season when it placed fourth overall.
Women's cross country will run on its home course five times this fall. The first chance to catch the Fords will be this Friday, August 29 in the Haverford Open. The keynote home event on the schedule will be the Centennial Conference Championship on November 1. The team will also host the Alumnae Race (Sept. 6), Main Line Invitational (Sept. 25), and Haverford Invitational (Oct. 24).