Women’s cross-country trains to take GNACs

Last season, the Norwich University women’s cross country team finished first in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC). With a new roster, they were “hoping for the double wins” with the men’s team this season, according to the women’s team captain.

With five meets in hand, the team has a first, 2nd and fourth in three in-state meets,and came in 11th out of 39 teams at the big Westfield State Invitational on Oct. 10

The new runners have brought “a lot of energy” and it has been “really motivational to see them,” said Captain Rebecca Sweem, 21, a senior mathematics major from Richmond, Maine. “They are putting a lot of competition between the upperclassmen.”

Seven freshmen were added to the team, which made them almost half of the current 16 runners on the team with Sweem and Chapel Guarnieri as the new captains.

Despite the many changes occurring in the team, Sweem said the team still had the motivation from winning last year to train harder this year.

Both freshmen and the captains were new to their positions, but they have all contributed greatly, said Nick Cooper, the women’s head coach, adding that the team had “a good group” for competition.

The contributions from the captains and the upperclassmen helped him and the team, especially the freshmen, Cooper said. The upperclassmen are also supporting new runners in many aspects, including cross country and classes, Sweem said. They were “compatible with one another” and this led to the better team environment.

The upperclassmen “try to help us with whatever they can whether it’s running or Rookdom,” said Leah Cifuentes, 18, a freshman communication major from Pittsburgh, Pa, adding that she felt “very at ease” during practice time.

Team bonding was important to the women’s team as it motivated players, Sweem said. Unlike other sports that practice individually in men’s and women sports, cross -country teams train together with both males and females, which creates a better atmosphere during practice.

Players generally stay together not only during the practice, but also during the travel to the meeting place, Sweem said. They spent a lot of time as a team and were closer compared to last season.

The team performs better when the players help each other, said Danielle Franco, 20, a junior civil engineering major from Corpus Christi, Texas, adding that “if we are all happy in the practice, then we work harder and contribute more.”

Although the training helps with the physical fitness side, it is also important for the team to stay healthy and avoid the injuries, Franco said.

Because a majority of the team is freshmen, the current roster could be considered inexperienced but they were all talented, Cooper said. As a result, the team can rely more on the new players this season.

The youth of the runners has also been a benefit. “The strength of the team is in the younger generation of the team,” Sweem said, adding that they motivated her to train harder than last year.

Many new players run “at the front” during the practice, Franco said. “They are pushing the rest of team to get better and improve.”

But one of the new runners, Cifuentes, said that “the upperclassmen are the strength of the team,” and they inspire the freshmen to run faster.

With the combination of experienced and new runners, the team has looked promising, Sweem said. “We are a lot faster and I think we have more determination to keep the win that we had last year.”

“We are taking a step forward from what we were in the past,” Cooper said.


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