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Women’s cross country races to a sixth place finish in a Boston “learning experience”

Five smiling women in cross country uniforms.
Princeton’s top 5 following their first meet of the season at the New Jersey Jam.
Courtesy of Go Princeton Tigers

Facing their first large field of the season, the Princeton women’s cross country team placed sixth at the Battle in Beantown 5k on Friday.

Rain, a northeasterly breeze, and mud underfoot set the tone for a challenging race, where the Tigers were one of fifteen visiting schools present, along with the host Boston College.

Coming in first place were two-time defending Ivy League champions Harvard, whom Princeton had beat earlier in the year at the three-way HYP (Harvard, Yale, Princeton) meet in Wilton, Conn. However, with relative home-field advantage on Friday, Harvard raced to a runaway win, with their 61 points outpacing Penn, who finished in a distant second with 103. Rounding out the podium was Texas A&M, who made the long trip worth it with their 107 points.

“We had an average day at Franklin Park as a team,” Coach Brad Hunt told The Daily Princetonian while emphasizing the positive lessons from the race. “We selected this meet specifically to preview the Ivy League Championship course. . . and we definitely left Boston wanting and expecting more come championship season.”

While short of the normal 6k distance for women’s cross country, the meet was a strong opportunity to race against regular Northeast and Ivy League foes. Harvard, Penn, Dartmouth, and Cornell were all present, and all schools except for Texas A&M and Auburn were from the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast.

Leading the way for the Tigers was senior Tsion Yared, who placed 13th overall with a time of 17:32. Fellow senior Maggie Liebich, who was as high up as second place early on, finished 15th overall, just two seconds behind Yared and second on the team.

“For me personally, the performance was a learning experience, and I think that speaks for the entire team,” Liebich told the ‘Prince.’ “We’ve been incrementally moving up in the [racing] distances, and. . . it was definitely a rust-buster.” 

Rounding out the top five for Princeton were first-year Olivia Martin, senior Fiona Max, and first-year Hannah Riggins in 17:51, 17:52, and 17:58, respectively. Aggregating the scores of the top five runners, the Tigers collected 136 points, just ten behind fifth-place Villanova and seven in front of seventh-place Auburn.  This was Princeton’s first race in 20 days, and their first race of the season of more than four schools.

Along with allowing a relatively inexperienced team to gain more race miles, the course and weather gave the team a preview of November’s championship in addition to valuable practice running in far from ideal conditions.

“Cross country is very course dependent. It’s not like track, where it’s the same four laps wherever you are, so the Franklin Park course is pretty uneven footing. There’s a pretty sizable hill about two miles into the race, and parts of the course are also really narrow, so being able to understand all those things... [can] help understand where we can be most successful,” Liebich said.

Overall, the Battle in Beantown left the Tigers with important lessons that will help further the team’s progress and left the team striving for stronger results in the weeks to come. 

“Familiarity with the course, managing the weather, and great positioning early in the race are all factors that a young and inexperienced [team] will improve upon throughout the season,” Hunt added.

Up next for the Tigers are the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships in two weeks at the notoriously hilly Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx, NY, and to quote Liebich, “this team’s definitely hungry for more.”

Max Hines is a contributor to the Sports section of the ‘Prince.’ Please direct any corrections requests to