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Season Preview: New Faces Set to Lead Women's Cross Country in 2018

Griffin Kaulbach
Griffin Kaulbach

Preseason Captain Interview

HAVERFORD, Pa. – The Haverford College women's cross country team has built a strong legacy as one of the top threats to advance to the NCAA Championships out of the Mideast Region over the years. In 2018, the Fords will look to the next generation to carry on that tradition which has guided them to 17 national meets as a team. That span of success includes qualifying to the national meet during eight of the last nine seasons.

For Haverford to get back on the national stage again in 2018, the Fords will need to replace a trio of All-Centennial Conference performers who have led the team for the last three seasons. However, the team will return four members who each have experience on the national stage.

Now a sophomore, Hannah Doll was the team's fourth finisher during each of the postseason races last fall and race a personal-best time of 23:09.10 on the national stage. Senior captain Sophie Drew was not far off of her pace at the regional and national meets. Drew also turned in a PR at the national championship last fall with a mark of 23:21.20.

Sophomore Hannah Yeakey and junior Mckenna Krall rounded out the team's top seven during the postseason last year. Yeakey was the Fords' fifth finisher at the conference meet in 2017 and holds a personal-best time of 23:28.50 which she set at the Rowan Inter-Regional Border Battle. Krall set her 6,000 meter personal best during the biggest race of her career when she finished in a time of 23:50.4 at the NCAA Championships in 2017.

Senior captain Julia Smith, junior Jolie Jaycobs, and sophomore Molly Hawkins will look to fill the voids vacated by the graduated seniors as each of those three were just outside of scoring performances at the conference meet. Smith has competed at the conference championships with the team's top 12 since her rookie season and has a career-best time of 24:14.4. Jaycobs holds a PR of 24:31.80 which she set at Rowan last fall, while Hawkins set a personal-best mark of 24:10.83 during that same Rowan meet.

Looking to break the 25 minute mark this fall at the 6,000 meter distance will be juniors Michelle Luu, Mariana Ramirez, and Zoe Arditi, along with sophomores Angie Petrichenko, Griffin Kaulbach, and Amalia Axinn. Petrichenko and Kaulbach just missed those marks last fall, while Axinn turned in the best time of her rookie season at conference championships before having strong indoor and outdoor track campaigns. That trio of juniors all set personal bests last fall at various meets and will look for even faster times this fall.

Junior Annie Connolly-Sporing and sophomore Marly Banatte join the cross country team for their first seasons in 2018. Banatte was also a member of the indoor and outdoor track & field teams as a first year on campus. Five incoming first year runners (Natalia Cordon, Maggie Doubman, Izzy Miller, Sophie Schleifer, and Lauren Tanel) join the prestigious program with a chance to leave an early mark on the Fords.

Since joining the Centennial Conference in 1993, the Fords have finished first or second as a team at the conference meet 17 times in 25 seasons. That includes the 1993, 1995, and 1996 championship seasons. The Fords have been third at the conference meet during each of the last two seasons. In those same 25 seasons, Haverford has been second or third in the region on 14 occasions. That includes last year's third place team finish. The Fords placed 27th as a team at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships in 2017 and have been a top 20 team at nationals during eight of the team's 17 appearances.

The 2018 season gets underway in earnest this weekend as the Fords welcome back their alumnae for the annual race this Saturday at 5 p.m. Women's cross country will face its first outside competition as a full team during the Main Line Invitational on Friday, September 14 while the 2018 Centennial Conference Championships will also return to the Alumni Cross Country Course at the end of October.