Thirty years of excellence

The Women’s XC team hopes to celebrate anniversary with bid to nationals. Captain Rachel Solomon wants to take them there


The 2015 Women’s XC team has a mix of first-years and seasoned veteran runners. Photo courtesy of W&L Sports Info.

Peter Rathmell

Entering its thirtieth year of competition, the Washington and Lee women’s cross country team is looking to accomplish something truly special this season: win its fifteenth ODAC Championship.

“We have one of the best teams I’ve seen here,” captain Rachel Solomon, ‘16, said.

The team was talented last season as well, finishing third at ODACs. But injuries to several key runners late in the season derailed Coach Michael Dager’s first run at ODACs.

“We worked really hard over the summer and our runners continued to develop with track,” Dager, now in his second year as head coach, said. “We are ready to go.”

Along with the returning runners getting faster and healthier, a new crop of first-year runners has drastically increased the depth and talent of the team. Of this year’s top nine runners, five of them are first-years and two of them are sophomores.

“[The first-years] have adjusted well to college life. They are really talented and will make a huge impact over the next few years,” said Dager.

Though the team’s youth paints a bright picture for the future of the program, the team has a “win-now” mentality in the locker room this season.

“We are really clicking and there is a lot of energy. This season has been so much fun,” captain Kate McCreary, ’17, said.

Along with winning ODACs, the Generals also hope to have a strong showing at the regional meet.  Last year, the team fell one spot shy of its goal to finish in the top ten.

Currently, the Generals are ranked number five in the region. In order to qualify for nationals, though, they need to place in the top two in the Nov. 14 meet.

“I think we have a shot at nationals,” Solomon said. “ It’s never happened in my time here, but it is a definite possibility.”

The Generals have three more chances to showcase their speed and improvements from last year before the two most important races of the year.

The Generals’ biggest rivals this season are Bridgewater College and Eastern Mennonite University, according to Dager.  Last season, these two schools combined to place five of the top six runners in ODACs.

“We are really focused on late October and November,” Dager said. “We want to be ready to run two great races.”