October 16, 2011

Blazer Women Run in Packs at Home Invitational

FREDERICK, Md.--With Mary Baldwin sophomore Sophia Stone dominating the individual proceedings, the Hood College women's cross country team used strong pack running to pick up the next six places at the 8th running of the Hood College Invitational held on campus Saturday.

Leading the way for the Blazers were Alexandra Dystant, Alyssa Peterson, Joanna LaBoue and Gretchen Whitesell who swept through the top five, within seven seconds of each other.

Stone covered the slightly over 5,000 meter course in 19:12, the second fastest time in meet history in besting the 25 runner field. Along with Mary Baldwin College, the host Blazers were joined at the un-scored meet by Capital Athletic Conference foe Marymount University and Gallaudet University.

"This has always been a small, enjoyable, low-key meet," said head coach Brent Ayer. "The course cannot support much more than four or five teams. This is really an opportunity for the campus community to realize that we are here."

"Alex, Alyssa and Gretchen have been running well as a group all season long. It was really nice to have Joanna get into the mix, as well, at her final on-campus race," Ayer observed. "If we can get one or two more into that group, we would be a force most places we go."

Following about a minute behind the lead pack were Julie Barnett (sixth overall) and Lauren Roesch (seventh).

"Both Julie and Lauren have significant potential. Julie is in her first season of competitive running. She is very strong physically, she just needs to a little more endurance and a little more race experience," claimed Ayer. "Lauren is as tough as anyone, but has been fighting allergies and asthma."

Sophie Grizzle completed the Blazers top seven with a 10th-place finish. Also competing in the Blue and Grey were Caitlin Bean (12th), Heather Silveira (14th), Jessica Zambreny (16th), Sara Bean (21st), Emma Arneson (22nd) and Nalla Tejera (25th).

The event also served to recognize LaBoue who is completing her final season of cross country in a Hood uniform. 

"Joanna never competed in high school and has been a very nice surprise," said Ayer. "When she is healthy, she has been a consistent scorer for us. She is also as pleasant a person as imaginable. All in all, this is a great group to work with. We are young, but it has been fun."

The Blazer Harriers continue next Saturday, October 22, by hosting twelve teams at the Hood College Open held at Utica Park. The park is located five miles north of campus. The women's start will take place at 11:15 a.m.

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