September 30, 2007

Rookies give promise to rebuilding year

With none of its top five runners from last season returning this fall, women’s cross country entered this season with tempered expectations. After finishing 19th at Nationals, the Maroons had all the makings of a classic rebuilding campaign. One month into the season, though, the #35 Maroons are nationally ranked and basking in unexpected success.

“[Injuries] left our depth a little more questionable, but I think the young kids that we maybe didn’t expect to come in and be in a varsity scoring position have just responded really well to that challenge,” head coach Chris Hall said.

With fourth-year Hannah Moots and third-year Julia Moriarty the only veterans consistently placing among the squad’s top six runners, the Maroons have relied on an unusually young corps of racers. First-years such as Liz Lawton have stepped into the big shoes left by last year’s stars and made the most of their opportunity thus far.

“I think Liz has established herself as an outstanding collegiate runner and an impactful athlete,” Hall said.

Despite injuries to second-years Natalie Doss and Kathryn Dwyer testing the squad’s already fragile depth, in Hall’s estimation, the future could be even brighter.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they break out at the end of the season,” Hall said of his crop of first-years. “Right now, they need to deal with being tired and fatigued and still being competitive.”

Third-ranked Wash U and eighth-ranked Case will likely battle for first and second in the UAA once again, but the Maroons could find themselves in a dead heat with #26 Emory for third. Last season, the Maroons finished fourth.

Spotlight on Hannah Moots

One of only two fourth-years on the Maroons’ roster, Moots brings a steadying veteran presence to a young team.

“She’s helped to set a good example that a lot of people are following,” head coach Chris Hall said.

After running in a supporting role last season on a squad that included All–American Vidthya Abraham (AB ’07), Moots led the way for Chicago with a fifth place finish at this fall’s season-opening Elmhurst Invite.