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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Individual, team accomplishments are focus of women’s cross country’s title defense

Quinnipiac Athletics
Quinnipiac women’s cross country was picked No. 1 in the 2023 MAAC preseason coaches poll.

This past offseason, the Quinnipiac women’s cross country program raked in the accolades. The Bobcats were tabbed to repeat as conference champions, and as recently as last week, ranked No. 15 throughout the northeast region by the United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches’ Association. 

Rightfully so, as the defending MAAC champions ran past the competition last year and then some.

“When you’re in the hunt every year, it’s way more exciting,” head coach Carolyn Martin said. “It’s been a lot of fun. We have a tremendous amount of talent right now, we’re still young … (Last year was) probably the deepest team we’ve ever had.”With Martin at the helm for what is now her 13th-straight season, the groundwork has been laid for another successful year and a trip to NCAAs, a personal goal that Martin has had for a while.

Last November, the Bobcats had their second-highest placement at the NCAA Regionals in program history, finishing in 12th place. Though the season ended on a high note, the taste for improvement still lingers.

“I don’t think we’re constantly trying to break records,” Martin said. “I think we’re setting new bars and it’s making the program get better and better.”

What’s making the program better is the leadership duo of graduate student Emily Young and senior Liv DiStefano, roommates and captains of the team. With the pair setting the standard as all-conference performers, their precedent has trickled down to the younger members of the team.

“It’s kinda different because (college) went by so fast,” DiStefano said about being a leader. “No matter what grade you’re in, you’re a role model and people are going to be looking at you and learning from you. As a senior and as a captain, I feel like I have more motivation and it comes more naturally to want to help everybody.”

Younger student-athletes, including sophomore Rachel St. Germain — the 2022 MAAC Rookie of the Year — have seen their confidence grow from year one to year two. But the collective togetherness of the upperclassmen has helped St. Germain improve as well.

“I’m close with most of them, so I like to pick their brains if I need help,” St. Germain said. “It means a lot that they stayed. I kept in touch over the summer … we’re very close.”

It’s not just those three that lead these Bobcats on the trails. Seniors Alessandra Zaffina and Corinne Barney and junior Grace Michaud all help Quinnipiac become a deep, well-rounded program.

That was evident as Quinnipiac kicked off its fall campaign with a fantastic showing at the Stony Brook Season Opener Saturday, finishing first with 33 points as a team. All five scoring runners (DiStefano, St. Germain, Barney, Young and Zaffina) placed in the top 10. 

Whether it is the coaching from Martin, the self-motivation from the student-athletes, or a little bit of both, the team’s tactics have clearly worked. The Bobcats only brought in two freshmen and did not lose any athletes from last year. That drive to help push and improve the team has made strides, both on and off campus. 

“This guy at the grocery store was like, ‘oh women’s cross country, I heard you did really well in the fall,’” DiStefano said. “It’s really cool to be a part of and help build the school a little bit … every sports team deserves that attention because every team works really hard.

“It was cool to have the Trader Joe’s cashier say something like that,” DiStefano added. “It made me feel good about the whole team.”

And if this fall was anything like last fall, it will be more than the staff at the West Hartford Trader Joe’s that will recognize these Bobcat runners.

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Ethan Hurwitz
Ethan Hurwitz, Sports Editor

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