Women’s Cross Country Win Rumble: An Annual Tradition of Determination


Photo courtesy of OC Athletics

College fourth-year Oona Jung-Beeman participating in the Rumble.

 On the morning of the Inter-Regional Rumble, members of the Oberlin women’s cross country team prepared by putting on glitter and writing words of encouragement on each other with colorful pens. Coaches, friends, Oberlin alumni, and family were on the sidelines cheering for their teams as athletes lined up at the starting line, a sea of multicultural uniforms. When the gun went off, the sound of pounding feet filled the air as hundreds of cross country athletes raced around the 6- and 8-kilometer course. 

The Inter-Regional Rumble is the only home meet of the season, and the event includes teams from across the country, as well as nationally-ranked and regionally-ranked teams for both the men’s and women’s races. The Oberlin women’s cross country team was the only to place three runners within the top 19 finishers. This triumph landed the women’s team their fourth consecutive Inter-Regional Rumble title.

While this alone is an impressive feat, it is the experience of being a part of the event, whether as an athlete or as a spectator, that made the Rumble memorable. College second-year Nina Liloia is part of the women’s cross country team and described the Rumble as an event that goes beyond athletic competition because of the enthusiasm of participants. 

“The Rumble is extremely high in energy,” Liloia said. “The whole course is lined with family and friends, and so you can always hear someone chanting your name and cheering you on. There are four different races during the day, so during every race that isn’t your own, you’re running from place to place on the course and cheering on your teammates. If your voice isn’t completely gone the day after the Rumble, you’re doing it wrong.” 

The women’s cross country team attributes their success in part to the team dynamic fostered by coaches, Ray Appenheimer and Izzy Alexander. College fourth-year Marija Crook has found that team practices are a safe place for players to express and push each other to be their best both on and off the field. 

“Team dynamic is everything,” Crook said. There is an intentional effort by everyone on the team to create an environment where everyone understands how integral they are to the team’s success in races. For me, success is also the type of community we continue to create that strives to bring out the best, most accountable, and supportive versions of ourselves.” 

The Rumble was worked by the women’s soccer team, many of whom were surprised by the sheer number of runners and reactions of the athletes as they crossed the finish line. Some runners were so exhausted that they collapsed on the finish line, where the women’s soccer team was placed to help them. One non-Oberlin runner ruptured her gallbladder during the event, while others required additional support from coaches as they pushed themselves to break personal records. College third-year Kiera Markham’s job was to ensure that the finish line remained clear, which meant at times, she had to help runners move to the sidelines when they reached the end. 

“These athletes are incredibly inspiring to watch,” Markham said. “I was in awe of the amount of people that were running so hard that they literally could not support their bodies.”

Markham also appreciated the strong sense of community fostered by the event. 

“Runners hugged their competitors and congratulated every person that crossed the finish line,” she said. “There was an outpouring of support from the runners and everyone around them.” 

For College third-year and varsity soccer player Olivia Weeks, working the Rumble reinforced the stamina of Oberlin’s cross country team. 

“Our cross country team is amazing, and some of the most hardworking and impressive people I have ever met,” she said. “The meet definitely reinforced my utmost respect for all of the team as athletes and I can’t wait to help out more in the future.”

 As a whole, Oberlin’s women’s cross country team pride themselves on making each meet, especially the Rumble, an opportunity to support each other and express their passion for running. 

“I’m glad that even though we are an accomplished team, we can still have fun and not be too serious about things,” Liloia said. “Personally, I dump glitter on myself before every race. Even if it doesn’t make me run faster. It totally does though. It’s still wonderful to do things just for pure joy.”

For Liolia, the Rumble, and cross country as a whole, can serve as an escape and a strong confidence boost.

“When I’m running, I’m focusing on how good the breeze feels around me, on the sun warming my face, my feet beating against the ground, not how I look.” Liloia said. “Being on the cross country team makes me feel proud of my body and how far I can push it, how far it can take me, and makes me feel joy and gratitude for the ability to move.”