Betts focused on senior campaign
Matt Gad – Sports Writer
Ashley Betts is one of just two seniors competing for the women’s cross country team this season, along with Alexandra Russo, and being in her fourth year she knows what’s expected of her and the team.
“I think we’re stronger than last year. We have two really good freshmen and we have another one who’s just a little ways behind,” Betts said. “We have a good, solid Top 5.”
Betts ran to a 26th overall finish at the team’s first meet of the year back on Aug. 31, when the women’s squad placed third at the Adelphi Panther Invitational. She finished first for the team and ran to a time of 20:31.6 in the women’s 5K.
“We were just tempoing [the first meet],” she said, “trying to see what we could do for a 6K since last time it was just a 5K.”
For the first mile of the race the team “pack ran,” a tactic teams use so no one goes out overly fast and you can run off the speed and skill set of your fellow teammates. After that, Betts said she was able to pull ahead and see what she had left for the last few miles.
Brian Nill, who works with the men’s and women’s distance teams, described the tempo process as something he uses for athletes to get work in since you can’t score points in September and also to get athletes used to running longer races. The men run a lot of eight-kilometer races while the women primarily go off 6Ks.
“The only meets that really do anything for you are the regional meet and the conference meet so we’re gonna train to those,” he said.
Junior Meghan Delaney said she’s known Betts since she’s been on the team and that, even with the freshmen, it doesn’t take long for everyone to get familiar with each other and build up a successful team chemistry.
“We reached out [to the freshmen] and we made a group chat,” Delaney said. “We’re very connected and text about more than just track and cross country.
Nill hasn’t named any official captains because Betts is actually a redshirt so she’ll have one more season to compete and because Russo only walked onto the team last fall.
“This is the best chemistry we’ve had out of the four years that I’ve been here,” Betts said. “We’re just gotten a lot closer this year because we’ve been running together every day.”
In addition to Betts, Russo and Delaney, the team is comprised of freshmen Elizabeth Gray, Christina Gubetta and Emilie Noreika and sophomore Brittany Post.
At the Division II Challenge in Kutztown, Pa. last weekend, the team finished in eighth place and Delaney led the group, finishing number 32 overall with a time of 26:44.8.
There are three more meets before conference championship weekend Nov. 4: the Paul Short Invitational, in Bethlehem, Pa. is Sept. 29, the James Early Invitational is Oct. 6 in Westfield, Mass. and the Bruce Kirsh Cross Country Cup is in Hopkinton, N.H. Oct. 20.
“I definitely wanna get a 6K PR (personal best) and I wanna be All-Conference,” Betts said. “And then for the regionals I just wanna see but the goal is to just place well.”
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