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Melia Chittenden finished first at the Henry Mercer Monmouth Invitational. Photo by GoPrincetonTigers

After a successful start to both the men’s and women’s cross country seasons at the Fordham Fiasco earlier in the month, the female Tigers continued to impress with a first-place finish at the Monmouth Invitational this past weekend. With seven women finishing in the top 10 overall and clocking an average time of 18:24 over 5,000 meters at Holmdel Park, a course notorious for its difficult hills, the orange and black ran away with the team title.

Junior Melia Chittenden grabbed the first individual place overall, averaging 5:50.7 per mile to break the tape in an impressive 18:09.9. In recapping her experience guiding the team to victory, Chittenden describes Saturday as “a great opportunity for our team to compete tactically while not going too hard, too early in the season”. Overall, she thought the team “really worked together” and “ran a smart race.” The No. 22 ranked Tigers will continue to race tactically and work together towards bigger team goals.

Right behind Chittenden was freshman Maggie Liebich, dashing for the finish line in 18:16.0 to finish just ahead of a competitor from Marist. In only her second collegiate race of the year, Liebich proved that she is capable of running with the veterans. In discussing her plan of execution during a post-race interview, Liebich explained, “I wanted to stick with my teammates. I ran in a pack with the team but at the hill our pack separated slightly, and I raced mostly alongside Abby (Loveys). I felt good during the race and I am starting to feel more comfortable with college racing.” Liebich then discussed her goals for the rest of the season: “I am aspiring to be on the Heps and Regionals roster to help us achieve our team goals of winning the Ivy League Championships and qualifying for Regionals.”

After capturing first and second place, the Princeton women continued to dominate the rest of the field. Freshman Abby Loveys claimed fourth place in a time of 18:24.8 while sophomore India Weir followed in fifth with a time of 18:35.2. Seniors Madeleine Sumner and Sierra Castaneda grabbed seventh and ninth place overall, while junior Sophie Cantine rounded out the top ten finishers in 18:49.9. Junior Katherine-Leggat Barr also had a strong performance, finishing in twelfth with a time of 18:56.2.

With only three meets left before the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, which take place on November 1st at Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx, New York, the Tigers will have even more opportunities to challenge and push themselves in the races to come. The women will be joined by the men’s team on October 5th for the next meet on schedule: the Paul Short Invitational hosted by Lehigh University.

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