Captain Sarah Kelley ’18 won the Maine State Cross Country Championship on Saturday to help the women’s team to a second-place finish for the second consecutive year.

Kelley’s success on Saturday is only one of her many accomplishments this season, which have included first place finishes at each of the three NCAA Division III races that team has competed in this year.

This week Kelley was named NESCAC Women’s Cross Country Performer of the Week—an honor that Head Coach Peter Slovenski sees as a product of Kelley’s competent racing strategy.

“Sarah looked very strong. She showed a lot of poise in the early stages and then…a lot of grit [pulling] away in that final mile as she did,” said Slovenski.

Even with her continued success this season, the title came as a surprise for Kelley since her training has not changed over the past couple years. 

“It’s a pleasant surprise to see improvement,” Kelley said.

This week’s other notable performance came from Demi Feder ’17, who has quickly become a crucial member of the team since joining this fall. A longtime track runner, she has shown steady improvement throughout the season, finishing fifth on the team in the first meet and fourth in the second meet.

“[Feder] was a very smart track runner, so we knew she could figure out the complexities of distance running,” said Slovenski. “She has had a really good intuition for when to hold back and when to move forward in workouts and races. It’s not easy to teach that and…it’s been a big help to the team this fall.”

While her lack of cross country experience could be seen as an obstacle, Feder credits her improvement in large part to being a new member on the team.

“Coming into it new I’ve been lucky enough not to have expectations and just take everything in,” said Feder. “I’ve been able to enjoy running for running and it’s the first time that I’ve truly felt that at Bowdoin. It’s taught me to love the fall and be completely infatuated with running through the woods. It’s more of a freeing experience in sport than I’ve ever had at Bowdoin before.”

Looking ahead, the team is preparing for the upcoming NESCAC Championship meet, which will be held at Colby next Saturday. In 2014 the women’s team placed 10th out of 11 at the NESCAC Championships and in 2015, the team moved up to 8th place. Slovenski hopes that with the proper training and focus the team will continue the upward trend this year.

“NESCAC has a lot of highly ranked teams in the NCAA Division III so it’s a really good conference for cross country. A top-five finish would be a great accomplishment,” said Slovenski.