Recapping the 2022 Women’s Cross Country Season

The following recap of the 2022 Marist womens cross country season is a part of Center Field’s efforts to highlight teams on campus that haven’t been covered as frequently in the past.

As many of the runners here at Marist are in the midst of the winter track and field season, the time has come to recap how the womens team performed during the 2022 fall cross country season.

Marist Invitational (Sept. 3, Vassar Farms):

Womens 5k Results:

The team had a very successful opening race, coming in second place, trailing only Uconn. The top runner for Marist was freshman Parker O’Brien, who finished fifth overall at 18:46.1. 

Rounding out the Red Fox top five was sophomore Adele Alexander, who came in 11th overall at 19:21.2; redshirt sophomore Hannah Belleville, who came in 13th overall at 19:24.8; redshirt sophomore Tori Mariano, who came in 18th overall at 19:44.7; and redshirt sophomore Samantha Kehler, who came in 21st overall at 19:54. 

Together, the top five placeholders combined for 68 points, good enough to cement their second-place finish overall. This race certainly kickstarted a youth movement for the team, as they saw numerous runners with multiple years of eligibility remaining begin to establish themselves as mainstays.

“We’re a very young team, from an eligibility standpoint, most of our top girls every week were redshirt sophomores and freshmen,” head women’s cross country and track coach Chuck Williams said when asked about the team’s youth. “That shows the future of our program is really bright, but it also shows that they’re really able to transition to college and be successful.”

Siena Invitational (Sept. 10, Loudonville, NY):

Womens 5k Results:

The team continued to showcase its plethora of younger runners in placing fifth overall out of 14 teams. Quinnipiac won the day with 49 points, while Marist finished with 144 points for their top-five combined placeholders. 

As far as MAAC team placement was concerned, the aforementioned Quinnipiac placed ahead of the Red Foxes in addition to Siena, who saw their top five runners combine for 97 points. Fairfield, Rider, Manhattan, and Mount St. Mary’s all finished behind Marist.

For this race, freshman Nora White emerged as the team’s top runner, coming in 20th overall with a time of 18:50.8. O’Brien wasn’t far behind, finishing in 25th place at 19:05.2, while Belleville (31st place, 19:13.7) and Alexander (36th place, 19:27.6) also notched top-40 finishes.

“I think the beauty of our team this year is… we almost had a different lead runner every other meet, which really showed the depth of our team,” Williams said.

Ted Owen Invitational (Sept. 24, New Britain, CT):

Womens 5k Results:

Finishing fourth overall on the day, Marist saw their top five runners combine for 143 points. The team just barely edged out Merrimack for fourth place, as the Warriors finished only four points behind them. 

The top team overall, Rhode Island (47 points), also found themselves finishing slightly ahead of the team behind them, New Hampshire (51 points).

White once again rose to the top for Marist, coming in eighth overall while running a blistering 18:20 time, which was more than 30 seconds faster than her 5k time from the Siena Invitational just two weeks prior. The next two finishers for Marist were sophomore Anaiya Bobo, who came in 35th place at 19:31.6, and sophomore Kaitlyn Murtagh, who finished right behind Bobo in 36th place with a time of 19:35.8

Paul Short Run (Sept. 30, Bethlehem, PA):

Womens 6k Results:

The womens team fared slightly better than the men on this day, coming in 16th overall out of 29 teams in the Women’s Open Race while notching a top-five combined score of 437. Utah State ruled the day with a staggeringly dominant top-five combined score of only 19 – the Aggies had runners come in first, third, fourth, seventh, and eighth place overall. 

With many of the team’s best performers resting, the top runner for Marist was redshirt junior Kathryn Tenney, who finished 99th overall while running a time of 23:20. The next two finishers for Marist were redshirt sophomore Kaitlyn Hastings (130th place, 23:53.2) and Emily Litke (140th place, 24:08.2).

IC4A Championships (Oct. 14, Van Cortlandt Park, the Bronx NY):

Womens 6k Results:

It was a middle-of-the-pack finish for the Red Foxes, as the team placed 20th out of 34 schools with a combined top-five score of 567. This race saw O’Brien return to the front of the pack for Marist, as she finished 60th overall on her way to a time of 22:36.2. 

Also rejoining the group of top finishers for Marist was Alexander, who placed 74th overall while running a time of 22:44.6. Kehler, who had placed fifth in the opening meet of the season, began her end-of-season ascent with her performance in this race, as she came in third on the team (121st, 23:14).

CCSU Mini Meet (Oct. 21, New Britain, CT):

Womens 3k Results:

Only two Red Foxes ran in this meet, with Bobo (33rd, 10:47.3) and redshirt senior team captain Sara Leavens (52nd, 11:25.9) taking on the much-shorter-than-usual 3k course

MAAC Championships (Oct. 29, Colonie, NY)

Womens 6k Results:

With placement in the MAAC conference on the line and the team benefitting from weeks of rest, the Red Foxes finished fourth overall out of the conference’s 11 teams with a score of 131 points. Quinnipiac won it all with 26 points for their top-five combined, while Siena (46 points), and Iona (65 points) finished ahead of Marist. The Red Foxes managed to stave off Rider (144 points) for the fourth-place finish.

“They’re hungry, they wanna get better, they aren’t satisfied with finishing fourth in the MAAC conference,” Williams said. “Before COVID, we were consistently second [in the conference]. We were top 15 in the region, and that’s where we want to be.”

Kehler had her long-anticipated emergence, as the redshirt sophomore placed first on the team and 15th overall with a time of 22:19. The performance earned her the first All-MAAC honors of her career.

“I was really happy for Sammy, but I’m not gonna say I was surprised, I saw this coming,” Williams said. “Sammy is one of the hardest-working girls we have on the team, and she dealt with a lot of injuries at the end of her high school career, but I could see it coming as the season went on.”

Following Kehler were Belleville (20th, 22:31), O’Brien (23rd, 22:37), and Alexander (36th, 23:07). O’Brien’s placement gained her All-MAAC Rookie recognition, as she placed fifth in the race out of all freshmen; the award capped off a strong year for her that included two meets where she was the first runner for Marist to cross the finish line.

NCAA Northeast Regionals (Nov. 11, Van Cortlandt Park, the Bronx NY):

Womens 6k Results:

Kehler continued her rise to the top of Marist’s ranks with a team-best finish at Northeast regionals, as she placed 113th overall while running a 22:38.4 time. Belleville (121st, 22:46), O’Brien (131st, 22:52.3), and Alexander (175th, 23:32.3) once again followed Kehler in the same order as the MAAC Championships.

“The biggest thing as a coach is you see the confidence. And we saw the confidence growing, [Kehler] really wasn’t afraid to step up,” said Williams. “She knew at the end of the season we were missing a few key people and that we were gonna need some people to step up and fill those voids, and she did a phenomenal job.”

These performances combined to put the Red Foxes at 25th out of the 37 teams that competed from the Northeast region.

Off of the Course:

When reflecting on the 2022 cross country season, Williams attributed much of the team’s success to the leadership of the team captains. The captains – Leavens, redshirt junior Greta Stuckey, and redshirt junior Caitlin McCann, played an instrumental role in recreating the team’s culture in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the team had to start from the ground up in doing so.

“[The captains] had a challenge because we had such a young team, eight sophomores, eleven freshmen this year, and then the redshirt sophomores,” Williams said. “So it was a very young team, very inexperienced, and [the captains] really brought them together and it really started preseason, just by leading by example.

“Even when their performances weren’t going the way they wanted, they didn’t let that show, and they just really helped the girls to know the right way to do things and how to represent the program. Taught them how to be college athletes and what that meant, the responsibility of it.”

With all three runners also serving as captains during the ongoing track season, Williams and the other track coaches will continue to lean on them to provide the team with the culture boost it needs.

Edited by Dan Aulbach and Jonathan Kinane

Photo from Marist Athletics via Stockton Photo

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