Senior Captain Sarah Mawdsley’s dream came true on Saturday, Nov. 2 when the women's cross country team claimed the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Championship.Mawdsley won the race for the team, finishing in first place with a time of 22:31:50.“I was super excited,” Mawdsley said. “It is something that I have been working on since I got here. It has been my dream to win that race.”
Junior runner Grace DePalma and senior Captain Hannah Kaplan both could not contain their excitement.“I was absolutely ecstatic,” DePalma said. “We were all so pumped.”
“Coming into the season, we didn't really know where our team stood or what our expectations for ourselves were, but when we had heard coach pulled us aside and said you guys can't react yet but you it looks like we won. By one point I wanted to scream because we have come so far and worked so hard. It totally paid off.”
DePalma said the team beat a huge rival, University of New England (UNE), who they have been looking to surpass for a long time.“UNE has been one of those teams that has kind of been untouchable,” DePalma said. “They’re twice our size. They have a strong pack of girls, they always have.”UNE has been champions for the last eight years in a row.“I was excited to be conference champions because I feel like people always sleep on the cross country team or they don't even really think about us,” Kaplan said. “This shows that we are a team here too, so that was really cool.”
Kaplan expanded on the fact that UNE's team is much larger, but that did stop them from achieving the win.“UNE has a team double the size of ours, so there is power in numbers, but we just had a mighty team who wanted it bad enough,” Kaplan said.According to all three runners, the support that RWU team members provided each other motivated them to compete and achieve this success.“We have a strong team dynamic,” DePalma said. “We pushed each other every single day."
“This year the team is our best friends, so you aren't just running with people who are just your teammates,” Kaplan said. “These are people who we confide in about life outside of running, so that really helped as well.”Head Coach Sean Livingston and Assistant Coach Renae Marie Cicchinelli also contributed to the team's success.“We had a lot of discussions going into season about what will make us better,” Mawdsley said. “The coaches were so helpful. They really focused on customizing practices to what we the runners wanted more of.”
“Once we were given that freedom, it actually helped us perform better. It really made a difference.”
“Knowing you have coaches who care about you as a person, not just as an athlete, makes all the difference,” DePalma said.The team is now looking to compete in the New England Division III Championship in Brunswick, Maine on Saturday, Nov 16.Kaplan has plans to enjoy her last run as a Hawk.“I am going to try to give it my all, but I think my last race at Roger will probably be a ‘more fun, let's just go out there and feel happy race,’ rather than me going to compete and try to get to the next level. I believe we have already done that,” Kaplan said.Mawdsley has other plans for the race.“I’m going to come out doing all I can and try to get a spot for nationals,” Mawdsley said.
“It is another thing I have been trying to do during all four of my years here. I think this year is the best set up I have ever been in to accomplish it. I am getting very excited and I know the team will support me the entire way.”