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Women’s cross country races toward national podium

Womens+cross+country+races+toward+national+podium

After the exciting and emotional conclusion to the 2022 season, the Ithaca College women’s cross country team has continued its training and regrouped in preparation for the upcoming season. After a fourth-place finish at the Liberty League Championship and a third-place finish at the Regional Championship in Rochester in fall 2022, the team has set the bar high for both the new and returning runners this fall.

After 18 impactful years at the college, head coach Erin Dinan said she admires her athletes for their drive, mutual respect, support of one another and their ability to make first-year athletes feel at home. Despite what Dinan described as a “tough showing” at the Liberty League Championship, the women were able to pull together for a better performance at Regionals.

“Although our strong finish wasn’t enough to get a large bid into the NCAA’s, we had an individual athlete qualify and can work toward a performance that will get us the bid this season,” Dinan said.

Jillian Shea ’25 (XINYI QIN/THE ITHACAN)

Junior runner Jillian Shea said the beginning of the 2022 season was met with some individual injuries and inconsistent performances in practices and meets. To overcome that hump, Shea said Dinan encouraged her athletes to train alongside teammates that have similar race results and pacing.

“When race day comes and you’re running side by side with another fellow Bomber that you practice with every day, it pushes us through the race and reminds us of everything we worked for in practice,” Shea said.

In track and field, racing events take place on a flat course and most events tend to be significantly shorter than a cross country race. However, cross country courses are littered with steep hills and declines and span over a six-kilometer distance. Runners take on vigorous workouts daily to prepare them for the rough terrain and unpredictable weather conditions that they may face at any given competition. To win a cross country race, runners are given a score based on the position they finish the race in. The team with the lowest numerical score ultimately wins the event.

Despite the challenges cross country brings, these athletes were able to lean on one another for motivation and support. Shea said that through fun outings, post-practice cheers and embracing the hard work, the strain of training was greatly reduced.

“Being with each other every day helps us form a strong bond that strengthens our team,” Shea said. “It’s a great feeling to show up at practice knowing you’re surrounded by a group of girls who collectively work hard and support one another.”

Sophomore runner Jessica Goode said much of the team’s success can be credited to the team’s coaching staff and the connections that each coach has with their athletes.

“They care so much for us as not only athletes but as people,” Goode said. “They have great intentions and great experience as both coaches and runners.”

Jessica Goode ’26 (XINYI QIN/THE ITHACAN)

Goode proved to be one of the team’s most valuable runners during her first year with the Bombers. Following a stellar season — finishing in third place at the Liberty League Championship, 12th place at the Regional Championship and making an appearance at the NCAA Qualifying meet — Goode earned Liberty League Rookie of the Year honors.

Moving into the new season, Goode said the team is hoping to improve its overall performance at the Liberty League Championship and to place well at the Regional Championship. Placing second or better at the Regional race would allow the Bombers to compete as a team at the national level in Richmond, Virginia.

After three seniors and three graduate students have moved on from the program, the team will be composed of mostly first- and second-year students. Two graduate students, Paloma De Monte and Julia Tomanovich, will be returning as graduate assistant coaches. Seniors Emily Johnson and Hannah Fichter — both who have been described as incredible teammates and leaders from their teammates —  have been promoted to captains. With this exciting combination of talented new athletes and experienced captains and assistants, Dinan said the team is set up for a successful season.

Dinan also said she is excited to keep an eye on the growing performances of not only her returning athletes, but also of the squad’s incoming class.

“Recruits Annalise Butler and Sarah Cookson are two incoming [first-year students] who we should be watching. … If we continue to build on [last season] and including the new [first-year students] coming in, the team will be successful,” said Dinan.

The Bombers will kick off the 2023 season at the annual Jannette Bonrouhi-Zakaim Memorial Alumni Run on Sept. 2, which will be followed by their first official meet at Brockport College on Sept. 9. 



 

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