A crowd of over 100 spectators lined the 5K course on a sunny Saturday to watch the women's cross-country season opener, in which the team finished in second place behind Colby. The Mules led in all positions, but Bowdoin had four runners in the top eight and had a very strong top eight runners. The coaches had agreed prior to the meet to score 10 places instead of the normal five runners.

"We've been training hard, so we didn't look fresh," noted head coach Peter Slovenski. "But there is a lot of potential in our lineup."

First year Carolyn Baskir led the race at 4,600 meters, but lost the lead to three Colby runners in the final 400 meters.

Baskir was not satisfied with her performance, but hopes this will keep her determined for the rest of the season.

"Bad races always make me even more motivated and help me [accomplish my goals]," she said. "I would like to run in nationals this season and lower my 5K time."

Junior captain Anna Ackerman was satisfied with Saturday's performance, and said that having three first years in the top eight is a great sign because it adds more depth to the team.

"We have more potential this year than we had in the past two years," she said.

In particular, first years Melissa DellaTorre and Madelena Rizzo had impressive performances.

"This is my first year running cross-country," said Rizzo. "But hearing the shouts of encouragement gave me the determination to finish the race and conjure hidden stores of energy."

According to Ackerman, the team has a new sense of energy and connection, along with the potential that was missing in previous years.

"In the past, rather than having a pack of runners who can work together, we had individuals racing alone," said Ackerman. "This year we are a pack, which is a huge boost and hopefully will carry us for this season."

Senior captain Christina Argueta said that the team is becoming a cohesive unit.

"While the best of teams have a great deal of talent, they also have this bond," she said. "Instead [of fighting them], you fight for a better position because you know it will help your team in the end."

The team's camaraderie ranges from its practice courses to its bonfires before meets.

"Before meets, we often have team bonfires where we sing songs, read from motivational books, tell stories and read quotes," said Argueta.

"To be honest, we often start out our warm-up runs for workouts by talking about what is for dinner at Thorne," Ackerman added. "That and pump-up music in van rides keeps us motivated through intervals and hill workouts. We just want to build."

Although it knows how to relax, the cross-country team is focused for the season.

The team hopes to improve upon its ninth-place finish at the NCAA New England Regional Chanpionship.

"Our team goal is to make it to Nationals, and we plan to get there through hard work at practices, daily drills and lifting, and taking all precautions to stay injury-free," said Ackerman.

Slovenski knows the team needs more work.

"The key to our season will be how well our No. 5, No. 6 and No. 7 runners develop," he said. "It looks as though we'll be strong up front, but we'll need to have a fast fifth runner for the team to do well."

The Polar Bears will attend their second meet on Saturday at the Wesleyan Invitational.