In what has now become a steady pattern, the ever reliable Elinor Purrier propelled herself to another personal victory in a high level of competition this past Friday, leading the women’s cross country team to an 11th place finish in the NCAA regional championships.
Purrier crossed the finish line ahead of the next runner by a significant five seconds, crushing the 6-kilometer course in 20-minutes, 8.70-seconds. Purrier is the first woman in the program to win a regional championship and to qualify for nationals in all three seasons of running (cross country, indoor and outdoor track).
“[Purrier] was very patient out there today. Her race was tactically savvy and she was able to be very successful. She followed her race plan perfectly and was very mature and a composed upper classman out there and it showed,” head coach Robert Hoppler said.
Purrier stayed in the top pack for most of the race and took her cue with 1-kilometer left in the race to separate herself from the pack.
“It takes a lot, this doesn’t just happen. It’s a lifestyle choice. She’s been able to make those choices to facilitate this success and I’m really proud of her for that,” Hoppler said.
Hannah Kimball was next for the ‘Cats placing 56th (21:49.20) with senior captain Sarah Keiran not too far behind in 60th (21:51.90). Amanda Szymanski placed 86th, Riley Gilmore 116th and freshmen Meg Champagne and Melissa Menghini were 128th and 142nd respectively.
While the team fell short of their goal of top ten there was still much to be optimistic about about. The women took home their fourth consecutive conference championship this season and saw significant promise throughout.
“We had a lot of pieces of the puzzle come together to achieve what we achieved this year. It was a nice mix of experience with some newcomers. I think another thing is the incredibly high level that [Purrier] is running at,” Hoppler said. “I think we sometimes don’t quite give that enough credit as we should. She’s really been leading this team every step of the way and today was a pretty good example of that,” he said on this year’s season.
Purrier’s victory allows her to represent UNH at the NCAA championships on Saturday November 19th in Terre Haute, Indiana. The ECAC championships are scheduled for the same day in Bronx, NY.
The battle towards 27th place for the men’s team was led by junior captain Timothy Kenefick. The seldom run 10-kilometer course proved to be challenging compared to the usual 8-kilometers the men usually run. Kenefick finished 100th in 32:36.88.
“The goal was to be higher but we didn’t have a bad race. [It was] Tim’s first 10k, Ryan Chiesa’s second, and first for the freshmen and everybody else. The goal was top fifteen and we just didn’t have a tight enough group,” head coach Jim Boulanger said. “Usually we race 8k so you got to add two to it. We have to see what we can do and keep developing and bring this whole group back.”
Chiesa finished not too far behind Kenefick in 108th in 32:43.90. Nicolas Ochoa-Sevilla paced 156th, Brett Hoerner 162nd, Alexander Saveliev 187th, Mathew Geraci 200th, and Davis Clark 228th.
“Development and keep improving, training without getting injured, and taking that training and being able to race off of it” said Boulanger on looking back on the themes of this season. “We really didn’t do anything hard or crazy and we had a really successful season and we stayed healthy.”
The men’s team is also scheduled for the ECAC championships on Saturday in New York.