Junior runner Samantha Levy.
This past weekend, the women’s cross country team dominated the Rowan Inter-Regional Border Battle. They competed against other top Division III teams, including State University of New York at Geneseo, who followed right behind the Jays in second place. The Blue Jays beat Geneseo by 51 points.
Any way you slice it, Hopkins dominated the race, placing four runners in the top 10 and all seven runners in the top 20.
Junior Samantha Levy led the charge for the Jays, finishing in third place in the six-kilometer race with a personal best time of 21:16.05. Seniors Ellie Clawson and Felicia Köerner finished right behind Levy in fourth and sixth place, respectively. Rounding out the top five for the Blue Jays were junior Rebecca Grusby and sophomore Therese Olshanski.
Thanks to her strong race, Levy was named the Centennial Conference Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week.
In 2016, Levy was named to the All-Centennial Conference Second Team after finishing ninth in the Conference Championship race. This year, Levy has led a resurgence, leading the Blue Jays multiple times this year as the first to cross the finish line. With all her exceptional accomplishments, Levy was an easy pick for this week’s Athlete of the Week.
The News-Letter: What was the biggest key to the team’s victory and your personal success this past weekend?
Samantha Levy: I think this past weekend we did a much better job at packing up and running together for a solid chunk of the race, which always keeps everyone relaxed and prepared to ramp it up in the second half. Running with my teammates through the first few kilometers definitely helped me feel smooth and calm and ready to go for it when I needed to.
N-L: You set a personal best in the 6K race this past weekend, what went well during that race that allowed you to do so well?
SL: I think mainly it’s due to training; I’ve been able to train really well the past few months and have been feeling really strong. I also think that knowing the work we have all put in and being confident and feeling strong and smooth for the majority of the race put the team as well as me in a great position to run fast and feel good. Races have only been getting better every time, both personally and for the team as a whole, and that’s a really exciting thing looking ahead to Championship season and the potential for three more subsequently better races.
N-L: What has allowed you personally to have so much success on the team this year?
SL: Personally, this year I believe my success has come from the fact that I am finally healthy again. I got very sick my freshman year, and it took me a really long time to come back from that mentally, aerobically and a whole myriad of other ways.
I think that my body ironically got the rest it needed from heavy training while I was sick and now is ready to work.
N-L: Is there any pressure being the top ranked Division III team and having such high expectations after the team’s performances the last five years?
SL: There’s always pressure in competitive athletics, especially on an athletic team which has had amazing success in the past. Our team doesn’t get caught up in rankings or looking too far ahead in the season but rather focuses on the process. Each individual day of training is what eventually builds a championship team, as we have shown time and time again. Putting our heads down and working will eventually lead to the results we are aiming for.
N-L: How much does the experience competing against other top teams, both Division I and Division III, help you and the team?
SL: Racing against other top-ranked Division I and Division III teams helps in a few ways, one of which is that it gives us big-race experience. Being a part of such competitive and densely packed fields helps us work on our racing strategies in that kind of environment (as preparation for the big races during Championship season) as well as build mental confidence and experience. These races also help us to gauge where we are at that current time and what we need to work on to improve ourselves as a team. Personally I enjoy racing in big meets because of the energy, both from within our team and outside of it. Racing with and against so many talented athletes is invigorating, and every race is just further motivation for the next.
N-L: What are your personal goals and the team’s goals as you approach the end of the season?
SL: Our team’s goal is to take home a Conference title, a Regional title and a National title. Not merely take them home but dominate the races to get them. The more blue coming in before any other color at the finish lines the better. My personal goals are pretty much the same: help the team get all three of these titles by performing to my absolute best each and every time and leaving everything out on the course by the time I cross the line in Wisconsin. I also would like to continue to improve and would love to be able to break 21 minutes. I want to place in the top 10 individually at Nationals, and I want to do so with as many teammates as possible. I believe we can have five girls (at least) as All-Americans, and that would lead to one hell of a Championship win at Natty’s.
Levy and the Blue Jays will begin their postseason on Oct. 27, when they participate in the Centennial Conference Championships at Haverford College.