The Columbia Women’s team has been steadily gaining momentum all season long. During preseason, they were ranked 6th in the Northeast Region and were only receiving a handful of votes in the national polls. After two months of strong performances against some of the nation’s top teams, they have moved up to 3rd and 25th in the regional and national polls, respectively. With the added benefit of home-field advantage, the Lions will look to improve upon last year’s 3rd place HepsXC showing and vie for the team title.
To contend for the team win this Friday, the Lions will need to rely on experienced upperclassmen as they return 9 of their 10 competitors from last year’s Heps. Their top two returners, seniors Olivia Sadler (5th) and Leila Mantilla (9th), have been continuing to help lead the charge in 2015. They recently finished as the #2 and #3 runners for the Lions (61st and 92nd, respectively) at the highly competitive Wisconsin adidas Invitational. Joining them up front this year has been junior Natalie Tanner. She lead the Lions at the Princeton Inter-Regional meet, where they finished 3rd as a team, as well as at Wisconsin. Her breakout 34th place finish at that meet helped Columbia nab 17th place, taking down four ranked teams in the process.
But to truly be in the hunt for the title, the Lions will need to be firing on all cylinders. They will need to rely on solid performances from their #4 and #5. Ready to step up and fill those spots are a trio of runners who have each contributed to the Lion’s scoring efforts so far this season: freshman Emily Acker, sophomore Chloe Binczyk, and junior Pegah Khosravi-Khamrani. If two of those three ladies can keep the 5-women spread tight, the Lions will surely be in the hunt for the title.
– Rachel Sorna
photo by Michelle Chewens