While the men’s performance was dominant, the women’s squad turned in an impressive performance. The team’s overall score of 26 was the lowest team point score by a women’s squad in Colorado College history.
Sophomore Leah Wessler won the individual title and was the catalyst behind the Tiger’s roaring success. Going into race day, Wessler had the fastest 6K time in the conference. Castaneda explained, “All she had to do was go out and get it,” and get it she did. Wessler finished a little under a minute faster than the next closest competitor, Trinity’s Nicola Hall.
Despite Wessler’s superior times Castaneda was still leery heading into the race. “Trinity has a knack for doing things. For slowing it down, you know, trying stuff. We told our runners, ‘You let them go slow, that’s fine, but you go around them, keep that pace honest. That way, we make it into a game of who’s the fittest, not a game of who can play the games and get a kick at the finish line.”
Wessler went out and forced the pace and separated herself from the competition two miles into the 3.73 course. “I thought a few of the Trinity girls would go out with me, so I went out really hard, but they didn’t follow me, which was really surprising.”
Wessler ran a blistering average mile time of 4:42, a feat made all the more impressive due to the fact that Wessler was running on a surface she described as “cheesecake.”
The Tiger’s second finisher Rebecca Lavietes hung with Wessler for as long as she could and then dropped off to finish 36 seconds behind Wessler.
Where the women’s team title truly was won for the Tigers was in the pack that stampeded across the finish line in the mid-24 minute to low-25 minute range. Six Colorado College runners came in with the main pack of the race and gutted out a narrow victory over Trinity.
“We told them before the race, ‘It’s likely going to come down to our pack versus their pack. Get right there in there with them and don’t let them intimidate you, don’t let them play games with you.’”
Castaneda’s tone took on a gritty, rough quality when he explained the scene near the finish line. “Man, it was a battle. For the guys we had it after about four miles, but the girls, they came all the way down to the end.”
Castaneda said, “We needed people to step up and fill [Allie Crimmin’s] role. Stefani Messick, she really made it happen.” Messick, a sophomore Colorado native, finished 6th for the Tigers with a time of 24:25. Messick was followed close behind by sophomore Katie Sandfort, who finished with a time of 24:35.
Wessler said, “Stefani and Katie and Patti all stepped up and took the places of people who were not having their best races. They just really fought tooth and nail.”
Junior Beryl Coulter rounded out the women’s all-conference squad with a time of 25:03. Coulter went from 23rd at the 2013 Championships to 13th on Saturday, Nov. 1st.
Sophomore Liz Waterman and freshman Patty Atkinson both had personal best times, a feat made all the more impressive seeing as the course was in less than ideal physical condition.
“They were prepared, and they put it on the line and didn’t break. And those that couldn’t do it, like Allie [Crimmins] and Graham [Frank], had someone step up and take their place,” Wessler said. “That’s what a team does.”