By Leslie Crofton, Sports Information Intern

 Rhode Island College’s women’s cross country team will most likely experience the highs and lows of a typical “rebuilding year” this season according to Head Coach Matt Hird.  With only two out of last year’s top seven returning, the squad will need to work extremely hard to quickly form a cohesive team, something that Hird says is already well underway.  “We had to retune our objectives as a team this year, things might be a little more difficult than we had anticipated.  I still expect us to be respectable within the Little East Conference, however,” says Hird.

As is the case with any cross country program, the improvement of individual runners is directly correlated to the team’s improvement, and Hird’s runners are already improving rapidly.  Hird described the team’s second meet of the season, the UMASS-Dartmouth Invitational on Sept. 8, as “like night and day” in comparison to its first competition at the CCRI Invitational on Sept. 8.  Every runner improved dramatically and Hird believes that the team is really becoming a tight pack, something that is ideal in the sport, expecting to have several runners finishing within a minute of one another.

Junior Michelle Boudreau (Lincoln, RI) and sophomore Rebecca Horton (Seekonk, MA) are the two returning varsity runners from last season. Boudreau has been the top Anchorwoman in the first two meets, placing 11th  (out of 33 runners) with a time of 22:58 at the CCRI Invitational and 116th with a time of 20:55 (out of 226 runners) at the UMASS-Dartmouth Invitational.  Junior captain Michele Dunphy (Cranston, RI) has run second for RIC so far this year, followed by Horton.  Rounding out the top five are juniors Leslie Eastwood (East Providence, RI) and Dapheney Jean-Baptiste (Stamford, CT).  Both track runners, Eastwood is an 800-Meter specialist for RIC and Baptiste is a talented sprinter who is making her cross country debut.

Hird describes his runners as “blue collar athletes, good athletic citizens who approach everything correctly and take care of their teammates.”  “I enjoy working with them; our goals are modest, but I have a good sense that we will achieve them and maybe even surprise ourselves along the way,” says Hird.


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