by Dennis Young
(Winneconne, Wisc.) - The Dickinson College women's cross country team finished 25th in the nation today in Winneconne, Wisconsin. Senior captain Catherine Campbell (Carlisle, Pa./Trinity) finished 44th overall, the highest finish for a Red Devil woman at nationals since 2007.
She did so by running with an unusual degree of patience, moving up from 111th at the mile and 64th at two miles in the 6000 meter (3.75 mile) race. It was a redemptive race for Campbell, who lost roughly 30 places over the last 1.75 miles at last year's nationals.
After winning Centennial Conference and Mideast Region individual championships, sophomore Taylor Ludman (Willow Street, Pa./Solanco) was not able to recapture the form of the last three weeks. Her time of 22:17 was good for 100th place, and still an improvement over last year's 108th. Simply put, it was an extremely respectable race that had the misfortune to take place in a fall filled with spectacular races from Ludman. Classmate Emily Miller (Lenhartsville, Pa./Kutztown Area) finished off her sophomore year 13 seconds back in 128th, an improvement of 75 spots over last year.
A third sophomore, Sara Patterson (Houston, Texas/St John's School), ran adroitly at her first national championship, passing 36 women over the last 1.75 miles. The Devils' fifth runner, Merit O'Hare (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny) weathered a scorching fast early pace to deliver another solid performance, proving yet again that as a senior, she has found a remarkable level of consistency. O'Hare's PR for 5000 meters is 19:18, or about a 6:12 per mile pace. In a significantly longer race on Saturday, the slowest first mile of any woman in the field was 6:11. But Merit showed an impressive ability to run her own race, moving up from 265th at the mile to 257th at two miles, to finishing 244th.
The Dickinson women saw an unusually high rate of attrition this fall, losing elite runners to injury, study abroad, and the other vicissitudes of college life that occasionally derail the best of us. But they managed to make a national championship appearance for an 11th straight year. A streak of that magnitude isn't about good luck- it's about having the character and aplomb to deal with bad luck, and the Red Devils showed that in spades this fall.