Cross Country Looks to Find Stride at Regionals
The cross country team enters the final stretch of its seasons as the Yeomen and Yeowomen race to the Great Lakes Regional in Holland, MI, next Saturday. Both squads will look to improve upon their performances at the North Coast Athletic Conference Championship meet in Terre Haute, IN, last Sunday, where the women finished second and the men earned seventh.
“Our goal was to win conference — which we definitely could have done,” said first-year Marija Crook, who was awarded NCAC Newcomer of the Year at the meet. “I know we can do a lot better, and we really want to go to nationals, and if we run like we did at conference we cannot.”
Crook posted a time of 23:37.1 in the women’s 6k, averaging a 6:20 mile. The rookie from Carrboro, NC, finished in 10th place in a field of almost 90 runners. Leading the Yeowomen was sophomore Linnea Halsten, whose time of 22:29.8 at a 6:02 mile pace earned her a fifth place overall finish.
In addition to Crook’s and Halsten’s top-10 finishes, six of the 12 Yeowomen runners made it to the top 20. But they still fell to the Allegheny College Gators, who were able to get four of their runners to the top 10. Allegheny’s championship finish came as somewhat of a surprise, as the Gators were ranked fourth entering the competition.
But Crook said she and her teammates hope to learn from this experience moving forward.
“We can do a better job of pack running, and Saturday was really a learning experience for a lot of us,” said Crook. “The way we were running wasn’t really working for everyone.”
The Yeowomen will look to find their stride at regionals next weekend and advance on to nationals.
While the women’s team looks to make another appearance at nationals, the men’s team is trying to overcome a devastating hurdle as more than half of its starting runners, along with many other members of the team, were suspended for personal misconduct related to alcohol.
This suspension left a number of rookies and first-years to pick up the slack at the NCAC Championship. Seven of the nine Yeomen runners who competed had never before run in the conference meet, and three of them were first-years — Duncan Reid, Will Taylor and Elliott Bailey. The Yeomen placed seventh in a field of nine teams.
Senior EJ Douglass came in first among the Yeomen, with a time of 26:20.5. He finished in 10th place overall out of 101 runners. Then came Taylor in 34th place with a time of 27:58.2, the last of the Yeomen to break the top-50 runners. Following Taylor was a pack of Yeomen led by Reid and chased by Dylan Caban, Nick Care and Bailey, in 63rd, 65th, 66th and 67th places, respectively.
Those who are left have one main goal for the rest of the season: help get senior captain Douglass to nationals individually.
“With a depleted roster, the goal was to get EJ [Douglass] in the top 10 individually, and get the rest of us experience,” first-year Duncan Reid said. “We accomplished both of those goals, but we didn’t have team goals with such a depleted roster.”
Douglass said he hopes that once the roster is back in full force, the Yeomen can build toward the goal of joining the women at nationals.
“This year I don’t think making nationals as a team was a particularly realistic goal for the men’s team — we just don’t have the numbers right now,” said Douglass. “But I think in the next few years that could be a goal that we could re-approach.”
Cross country will compete in the College of Wooster 5k Twilight Challenge tonight at 7 p.m. in Wooster, Ohio, before moving on to regionals. Both teams could be facing their last meet of the season next Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Great Lakes Regional, the last qualifying meet before nationals.