Halsten’s Overall Victory Highlights NCAC Meet


Photo courtesy of OC Athletics

Sophomore Shannon Wargo races past Allegheny competition at last Saturday’s NCAC championship meet on Oberlin’s North Fields. Wargo finished in 10th place, with the fourth-best time for the Yeowomen.

A resounding first-place finish by junior Linnea Halsten highlighted last weekend’s North Coast Athletic Conference Championship Cross Country meet, but both the women’s and men’s teams fell short of expectations. Widely regarded as the NCAC favorite, the Yeowomen were upset by Allegheny College and finished second, six points behind the Gators, while the men finished seventh.

Halsten said expectations may have lulled the Yeowomen and left them unprepared for a determined Allegheny squad.

“They wanted it really, really badly, and they were very aggressive going at it,” Halsten said. “We thought we were going to win hands down. It was just a shock. We were all so surprised, and not really ready to fight for it as much as Allegheny was.”

Halsten earned the eighth individual title in Oberlin women’s cross country history, finishing first by a margin of over 30 seconds with a time of 21 minutes and 23.3 seconds in her team’s 6K race. But Allegheny took three of the remaining top-five spots to tally just 31 points and claim first.

Oberlin tallied 37 points and, despite the upset, ended up earning seven all-NCAC honors, making the race one of the best conference meets in school history. Sophomore Marija Crook finished in 6th place overall with a time of 22:35.0 and joined Halsten to earn first-team laurels. Rounding out the top-10 finishers were sophomores Oona Jung-Beeman in eighth place and Shannon Wargo in 10th. The Urso sisters, senior Sarah and sophomore Rachel, followed in 12th and 13th, and Sarah Ridley was next in 19th.

Even though the trails were covered in snow, Halsten led the pack behind a chorus of passionate Oberlin fans. Heading into the home stretch, Halsten was drastically ahead, but kept her pace with the encouragement of her peers waving the custom-made Oberlin Cross Country flag.

“It really, really helps … having the team there to cheer and people there to support you, wanting you to do so well,” Halsten said. “[I] want to make the team proud and the school proud of [me], and represent as much as possible, which can mean not just winning but winning by a larger margin. That’s what really motivates me to keep going and pushing the whole way.”

After Halsten finished her championship-winning race, she and her teammates turned their attention to cheering on the men.

By the time the men took to the course, it was even more muddy and the snow flurries had not let up. Head Coach Ray Appenheimer said he reminded the men that they couldn’t let the icy weather distract them.

“If you make the weather an excuse, you’ve already lost,” he said. “It’s this way for everyone. We have a game plan, we have expectations, we need to execute the way we were going to no matter what.”

Although Appenheimer said the Yeomen were disappointed by their seventh place finish and 172 point total in their 8K race, junior Grant Sheely and sophomore David Brubacher both had noteworthy races. Sheely led the Yeomen with a 13th place finish of 25:53.9 and was named to second-team all-NCAC. Next came sophomore David Brubacher, whose time of 26:27.9 earned him 21st place and all-NCAC Honorable Mention.

“Going into Saturday, we knew it was gonna be super cold and wet, so Ray and the entire team were really trying to make it a point that we weren’t going to let the weather affect us,” Brubacher said. “I’ve always felt like I run better in the cold, so I was honestly really excited about the weather, and mentally I was just focused on running my race and not letting what was happening around me affect me.”

Appenheimer noted Sheely’s performance on the men’s side and the finishes of Ridley and Rachel Urso on the women’s as breakthrough races. He added that he is encouraging the rest of the team to emulate their approach at the NCAA Regional meet next Saturday.

“We’re all going to have that [breakthrough] day next Saturday, so [I told the team to] expect to have that day,” Appenheimer said. “We are going into the Regional meet excited, optimistic, a little angry — which is good — but really ready to step up and, on the women’s end, make it to nationals.”

On the women’s end last season, Halsten’s ninth-place finish at the NCAA regional meet earned her a trip to the NCAA Championship meet, where she placed 53rd. This year, Halsten and the six teammates that will be running alongside her — Crook, Ridley, Wargo, Jung-Beeman, and the Urso sisters — will look to finish in the top two. A first or second place finish would guarantee the squad a trip to nationals.

The Regional meet starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11 at Ohio Wesleyan University. Appenheimer said Ohio Wesleyan’s course is unique in that there is a two-mile section of the course that is inaccessible by fans or coaches. The runners spend much of the race on their own.

“It’s all gonna happen where the coaches are not,” Appenheimer said. “It really will matter how much they trust one another, how much they can run with each other, and how much they want it while they’re back there and there’s no one cheering — it’s just them and their competitors. We’ve got a pretty mentally tough, resilient group, so I’m confident they’ll be OK.”