By MAGGIE SPITZER
For The News-Letter
On Saturday, Oct. 31, the Hopkins women’s cross country team raced its way to its eighth consecutive Centennial Conference Championship.
In this 50-point-margin team victory, four Blue Jays (junior Tess Meehan, senior Hannah Oneda, senior Courtney Kelly and sophomore Caroline Smith) took home First Team Centennial Conference Honors.
Meehan took it a step further, placing first with a time of 21:33 and securing the individual conference title.
The News-Letter sat down with Meehan to reflect on her latest achievement and the team’s postseason prospects.
The News-Letter: How has your role on the team changed over the past three years?
Tess Meehan: The main thing I’ve tried to focus on personally over the past couple years is just trying to be more consistent in my races and workouts. Working to a point where I can be a more reliable finisher for the team has probably been my biggest goal over the past couple years.
N-L: Your team is looking to win its fourth straight national title. What do you each need to do in preparation to achieve that goal?
TM: At this point in the season we are more focused on the little things like staying hydrated, getting enough recovery after workouts and enough sleep and nursing any injuries. Earlier in the season it’s always really important that we all push through the tough workouts and races together. Making sure that we get in the work we need even if someone is having an ‘off’ day.
N-L: With this personal achievement, you join your sister Sophia who was also named Conference Runner of the Year last year. What is it like to follow in your sister’s footsteps and achieve the same honor? What is the best thing about having your sister on the team with you?
TM: I am so lucky to have a really supportive and hardworking sister. Sophie is an amazing example of what someone can accomplish athletically if they really dedicate them self to improving and throw themselves into their sport. It’s been awesome to watch her improve as a runner throughout her time here at Hopkins, and I hope that with all the support she gives me I can continue to build upon the success that she had had both individually and with the team.
N-L: How are you going to prepare in the next two weeks for the Mideast Regional Championships?
TM: The little things… rest, nursing any kinks or injuries, sleeping and maybe some faster speed workout just to start feeling good and getting some turnover back for end of races.
N-L: What is your mentality and the team’s mentality heading into the final stretch?
TM: Trying to stay relaxed and confident. I think something that the older girls on the team, particularly Hannah Oneda who is an incredibly calm and collected racer, will really try to stress to the younger girls is just staying confident in the work we’ve done. Everyone has worked so hard over the summer and into this fall. We just need to trust in our training at this point.
N-L: What sets the Hopkins cross program apart from other teams in the conference and in the nation?
TM: There is such a culture among the girls on the team. Everyone wants to become the best they can possibly be, and it really shows with how we push each other in workouts and races. Everyone holds the other accountable, and I think this level of competition between one another but also support for each other is what makes the team so special and so successful.
N-L: What about this season stands out from the past two?
TM: I think what I’m most proud of about this years’ team or most impressed by this year is our freshmen… We have an amazing freshman class that has really stepped up. Felicia Körner and Tasha Freed in particular have had amazing freshman years. We also have several freshmen right outside our top seven to eight girls who will certainly be making an even bigger impact next year and in years to come. I don’t think it is super rare to have a freshman or even two freshmen in your top group, but to have five to seven freshmen in your top 12, and for them to display the poise and resilience while racing that our girls have shown throughout the year is truly impressive.
Meehan joins her sister and Oneda, becoming the third Conference Runner of the Year on the Blue Jays’ roster this season.