Reflecting on the outdoor season

Women’s Cross County looks to a strong recovery from injuries


Courtesy of W&L Sports Information

Peter Rathmell

For the first time all season, the Washington and Lee Women’s Cross Country team is healthy and ready to run. With regionals just a week away, the news could not come at a better time.

Next weekend, the top seven runners from the team will travel to Macon, Georgia to represent the Generals at the NCAA Regional Championship race.

The Generals have battled injuries since before the season even began, with senior Casey Mackintosh and juniors Rachel Solomon and Katey Bonaro all coming into the season sidelined by injuries.

All three of them are among the seven who will compete at regionals.

“It’s been tough overcoming all of the injuries, said Mackintosh. “I pulled my calf early on and the majority of our team only competed in maybe two-thirds of our six races.”

Despite the adversity, however, the Generals placed third at the ODAC Championships last weekend, up one spot from last year’s finish.

The success of first-year runner Rachel Steffens has been another bright spot on the season, as she has been one of the team’s most consistent runners. She will lead the team next weekend as the number one seed.

“I was a team captain in high school so I fell kind of naturally into the role,” said Steffens. “It is good because the freshmen can look to me, but I still have role models in the upperclassmen to turn to.”

Steffens hopes to finish among the top 30 individual runners and help lead the team to a spot in the top ten.

The Generals say they are very happy with their successes so far, but they are hungry for more.  For the first time in three years, the Generals are planning on keeping their head coach, Michael Dager, for a second season. This ends a three-year cycle of having to become accustomed to a new coach and a new system.

“The biggest challenge has been making them feel comfortable with me,” said Dager. “Having had three coaches in three years, that’s hard to deal with.  They had to be skeptical of me.”

With Dager coming back for at least another year, there is more stability in the program than there has been in the past. Dager said that he has to give most of the credit for the team’s success this season to his runners.

“I give them a plan, but they have to execute it,” he said. “When you have a team that works hard like these girls, they make you look good.”