Women’s x-country team running down the competition

A fast start by the UVM women’s cross country team is forcing competitors around the region to take notice.The team was ranked 12th in the Division 1 Women’s Northeast Regional Cross Country a poll released by the U.S. Track and Field and the Cross Country Coaches Association last week.Co-captains Diana Purtz and Danielle Cloutier-Simons are the only seniors on a rather young lady Catamount team, leading them to one of their better starts in recent history.The Catamounts were originally left out of the preseason ranking, but have burst onto the scene, winning the last two events and sweeping the Vermont Intercollegiate Championship with the men on Oct. 4.They carried this momentum into the New England Championships, which were held at Franklin Park in Boston, Mass., on Oct. 11.The New England Championships are one of the larger events the Catamounts will compete in, but before the race Purtz said she was confident in her team.”We do have high expectations for this year,” Purtz said. “We want to be up there in the American East.”The women finished 11th of 45 teams at the, one of their best finishes ever at the meet.Purtz acknowledged that their success is due in part to the chemistry of the team. “The best part about it is the team aspect,” Purtz said. “Being with each other we are able to push one another and be more competitive. “There is definitely a lot of positive energy.”The women’s cross country team, coached by six-year veteran Matt Belfield, will be racing all the way up until Thanksgiving break. They race at Saint Michael’s this Friday before traveling to the American East Championships on the first weekend of November, held at UMBC.