Ram women to depend on new leaders this fall
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Women's Cross Country - Mon, Aug. 28, 2017

MOUNT VERNON – For the first time since 2013, Coach Dan Schofer won't be returning an NCAA Division III qualifier on his Cornell women's cross country team

Two-time all-American Abrah Masterson and Rachel Moline both finished their cross country careers at the national championships last November. Both were all-conference (Masterson the champion) and all-region runners.

"After graduating two of the top runners in the conference and region, we certainly need and expect our returners and younger runners to step up this season," Schofer said. "It is clear that our team put in a lot of work this summer and that they are determined to be successful. We've had a great first week of practice, and the women are very motivated."

Despite the two key losses, Cornell is picked third in the Midwest Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, earning one first-place vote. The Rams placed second in last year's team standings.

Cornell brings back four regional competitors, led by all-MWC honorees MariKate Murphy (SR/Kirklin, Ind.) (eighth) and Dominique Fleming (JR/Winterset, Iowa) (12th). Seniors Sandra Gomez (SR/Rock Falls, Ill.) (37th at conference) and Lily Niswonger (SR/St. Louis, Mo.) (44th at conference) were regulars in last year's top 7.

"We'll look to our seniors MariKate, Lily and Sandra to provide leadership and some front-running," Schofer said. "Dominique will also use her experience to help the team."

The Rams have 10 letterwinners on the roster. Marissa Czapla (SO/Lincoln, Neb.) and Lexi Ferenzi (SO/Chicago, Ill.) both placed in the top 60 at the MWC meet as freshmen.

"I am excited to see what this determined group can achieve this fall," Schofer said. "We'll aim our training towards the MWC and Central Region Championships at the end of the fall."

Cornell opens competition Sept. 1 at Mount Mercy's Mustang Gallop in Cedar Rapids. This meet will serve as a Bremner Cup event with rival Coe. The Rams won the 2016-17 Bremner Cup All-Sport Trophy, 8-7.