One point. A single point was all that separated the Washington and Lee women's cross country team from rival Lynchburg College at last season's ODAC Cross Country Championships, as W&L won its seventh conference crown of the decade by the slimmest of margins.
Looking to lead her team to a repeat of the league championship, though perhaps not one as tightly contested, is ninth-year Head Coach Kris Hoey. In the recently released ODAC Preseason Coaches Poll, the Generals received 7-of-9 first place votes and were tabbed to repeat as conference champions.
Last season's eight-place finish at the regional meet snapped a string of five-consecutive years in which the Generals finished in the Top 5, including three-straight third-place finishes from 2006-08.
Despite featuring a smaller squad than in recent years, Hoey feels that the "refinement" of the roster will greatly benefit this year's team.
"Our goal is to have every member of the team have a part in the success of the team," Hoey noted. "We have a slightly smaller group, but I feel as though everyone is capable of contributing to this team and I think that is going to be better for us in the long run."
"She had a really good track season (1st/3000m steeplechase, 3rd/5000m at ODAC's) and I expect her to rise to the occasion again this season and lead this team," said Hoey of Schultz.
Joining Schultz as team captains are seniors Kathryn Iwata (Pasadena, Calif./Flintridge Prep) and Emily TenEyck (Cincinnati, Ohio/Ursuline Academy).
Iwata and TenEyck, who both boast several years of experience, will be counted on to lead a relatively young team.
"With Kathryn, the talent has always been there," Hoey pointed out. "It's just a matter of capitalizing on it and realizing that potential. And I am hopeful that Emily will be able to set a good example and continue the upward trend that she has been on."
Also returning for W&L is junior Molly Ortiz (Ketchikan, Alaska/Ketchikan), who has been described as "sneaky good" at times.
"Molly has been really good for us since she got here, but has been slightly overshadowed the last few years," Hoey stated. "She had a really good track season, but was abroad for ODAC's and unable to compete. She has done very well in cross country the last two years, but has been kind of lost in the mix a little bit it seems."
Ortiz, earned Second Team All-ODAC honors as a first-year after finishing in 13th place at the championship meet, and last season she nearly repeated her second team all-conference performance with a 15th-place finish.
One of the athletes who may have helped to keep Ortiz under the radar last season is sophomore Annelise Madison (Roca, Neb/Norris). Madison was the third General to cross the finish line at last season's ODAC meet, earning Second Team All-ODAC laurels with her 11th-place finish.
"Annelise improved throughout the track season and had a really good summer of training and I am looking forward to seeing her run this fall," said Hoey.
Another sophomore that Hoey made mention of was Brandie Huffman (Warrenton, Va./Fauquier). Huffman, who earned the track team's Most Improved Athlete award last spring and served as the cross country team's number eight runner in the fall, showed a vast amount of improvement throughout the year, culminating in a second-place finish in the 5000m at the ODAC Outdoor Championships.
"She just got better and better as the year went on," noted Hoey. "and, I think she could have good year as a sophomore."
With last year's one-point win over Lynchburg a reminder that quality depth is vital, Hoey is excited about the makeup of her team as the beginning of the season looms.
"Coming out of what was a good track season, coupled with some hard work over the summer and the realization by the girls of what they are capable of, I think that these ladies will be ready for the year ahead," Hoey proclaimed.
W&L will open its 2011 season at the ODAC Preview meet on September 1 in Bedford, Va., a meet that Hoey is excited to participate in this year.
"I really like being able to compete in the preview meet this season, as it can kind of give us a barometer of where we stand early in the year and give us a chance to define some goals to work towards as we approach ODAC's at the end of October," said Hoey.
W&L will once again host the annual Generals Invitational on both the men's and women's side. This year's meet is slated to take place September 10, with the women's race scheduled to begin at 10:00 am and the men's race to follow at 11:00 am.