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MADISON, Wis. -- The Wisconsin women's cross country team opened its season with a perfect score of 15 points at the Badger Opener against Central Michigan and Edgewood College on Friday.
The Badgers dominated the 5-kilometer race at the Zimmer Championship Course with a pack of five runners who swept places second through sixth behind UW alum Caitlin Comfort, who competed unattached.
Comfort, who was a senior for the Badgers last year and finished second in the 2011 Big Ten Championship, won the race with a time of 17:24. She will be helping the team as a student coach this season.
“It’s really nice,” said Comfort on her role as student coach. “I get to train with the team and still play a role as a leader, but step back and let the real seniors like Ashley (Beutler) and Hanna (Knurr) step into that captain role.”
Freshman Emma-Lisa Murphy finished in second place overall and was the Badgers top finisher in her first collegiate race. Murphy crossed the finish line just fractions of a second ahead of sophomore Gabrielle Anzalone, who ran to a third-place finish. Murphy and Anzalone both finished with a time of 17:54.
“I’m a freshman, so the whole college thing is new to me,” Murphy said. “I felt really good and I was super excited that I could run with a great pack of girls.”
Senior Hanna Knurr finished in fourth place with a time of 17:55. Senior Ashley Beutler finished in fifth right behind Knurr with a time of 17:56. Sophomore Lavinia Jurkiewic rounded out the UW’s top five with a time of 17:57 and finished in sixth place overall.
The Badgers gained an early lead and ran as a pack at the front to complete the sweep. Junior Krista Parks from Central Michigan finished in seventh overall and first for CMU with a time of 17:59. Senior Carrie Radel came in first for Edgewood with a time of 20:56 and finished 46th overall.
Head coach Jim Stintzi was happy with the team’s opening-season performance.
“I thought today went well,” Stintzi said. “Our goal was to see if we could have five to seven people run at the front and stay together, work together. We used it as a workout slash starter race. We have a travel limit of 12 and we’re trying to figure out those 12. We had some people out here racing for those spots.”
Wisconsin continues its season with three meets in as many weeks and will head to Whitewater for the Warhawk Invitational, on Saturday, Sept. 15.
“We’re going to step up the competition in the next few weeks, but today was a good chance to get the spikes on, be on grass and feel the hurt a little,” Stintzi said.