Elinor Purrier’s year of running in 2016 could not have been more impressive. After achieving All-American status as a miler on the indoor track last winter and as a steeplechase runner during the outdoor season last spring, she capped off her All-American tour by capturing those honors once again, this time on the cross-country course. Purrier placed seventh at the NCAA Championships this past Saturday and has made her case for the best runner to ever represent UNH.
Having won the individual title for the America East Championships this season in the process of helping her team capture its fourth straight title, while also placing fifth in the pre-national meet, Purrier was certainly a contender in this meet and did not disappoint. Her time of 19-minutes, 56.9-seconds put her at a 5:20 mile pace only 15 seconds behind the first-place finisher on the 6-kilometer course.
With race conditions expected to be gusty and cold at the course in Terre Haute, Indiana, Purrier was not worried.
“I’m also excited about the weather because I’m from northern Vermont and I’m really used to running in tough climate weather,” Purrier said in an NCAA pre-meet interview published on dyestatcollege.com. “I think it will be exciting because it will throw in a little extra fun to the run and it definitely makes a difference in who comes out on top.”
After a redshirt cross-country season last year, this was Purrier’s first time at nationals for cross-country. Purrier had her outdoor track season spill into July last summer when she competed at the Olympic trials. Durability is definitely a thought that comes to mind when factoring in Purrier’s long seasons of competing at a high level and managing to stay healthy. This marks her third season in a row of racing at a national level and succeeding at it.
With indoor track fast approaching, how Purrier is managed and raced will be key to longevity as she will be primed to dominate on the oval again. Coach Hoppler has displayed his ability to coach for the long term and keeps his athletes running at high levels, evident by their fourth conference championship in a row.
While Purrier was doing big things in Indiana, both the men and women’s teams were competing hard in its last meet of the season, the ECAC championships. The women finished eighth as a team and the men ninth.
Crossing the line first for the women was Riley Gilmore in 19:02 for tenth place in the 6k race. Timothy Kenefick, the top runner for the men all season, was 19th with a time of 26:28 for the 8k.
“The goal for the men’s team was to keep the team cohesiveness together. You don’t just stop at cross-country season,” said men’s coach Jim Boulanger, reflecting on the season and looking forward to indoor. The men moved up three spots in the conference from last year to fourth and are striving to be a Top-3 team.
This raced capped off an incredible season for the women’s team who during the season won their fourth consecutive America East title. Adding in the sprints, jumps, and throws for the indoor season should be an exciting addition to this championship team.