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Mariners women run strong in snow storm

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- U.S. Merchant Marine Academy women's cross country coach Greg Lott called his team performance in the wind, snow and cold at the Landmark Conference Championships "a good step in the right direction."

The Mariners finished seventh at the Landmark Championships on Saturday, which tied their best finish -- seventh place -- although they bettered their point total from last year.

"It was a good step in the right direction," Lott said. "A couple of key injuries cost of us from beating a few more teams in the conference. This team has the talent to finish much higher and I know they will exhibit that in the track season once everyone is healthy.

"It's tough when you are basically without two of your Top Four girls. I was just so impressed with and proud of our team in the way that they braved the elements, ran through some pain and worked together. This really is a fantastic group of ladies!"

The runners had to battle the course with temperatures hovering just about the freezing level, 15-20 mph winds and three inches of slushy snow.

"I've never seen anything like this at a cross-country meet in October," Lott said. "Most of our girls that competed are from warm climates."

Two women are from Southern California, one from Florida and a fourth from Las Vegas.

"They hadn't even seen snow, let alone raced in it," Lott said. "The wind was whipping big wet snow flakes into the athlete's eyes making it very difficult to see. It was an environment in which our athletes will never forget running."

The Mariners ran well in their depleted state. Freshman Ellie Coulter, who showed such promise midway through the year running in the fourth position on the team, has been battling some bad plantar fasciitius and gutted out a very painful effort. She had been off of her feet for the better part of the past two-three weeks but it was very important to her to race in this meet and give all that she could for her team.

Merchant Marine also was without its top runner, freshman Kelly Whalen, who missed the last month of the season with an injury.

The women were led by senior Lauren Rattan, who placed 23rd overall, running the majority of the race with her shoe untied and nearly falling off.

Freshman Amber Kinter, Baylee Grier and Mary Silk ran very solid races scoring in the 41st, 43rd and 45th positions, respectively.

"Baylee ran one of her best efforts of the season,' Lott said. She is really improving".

"I can't ask any more from the girls that ran. We've just got to get healthy."

Kings Point just completed finals week due to the school's tri-semester system, which forced the competitors to focus on exams and preparing for the meet.

The Mariners are back in action on Saturday at Mt. Greylock in Williamstown, Mass. for the ECAC Championships hosted by Williams College.

The Mariners runners had to battle the course with temperatures hovering just about the freezing level, 15-20 mph winds and three inches of slushy snow.