Once Again, Yeowomen Finish First in Conference

Juniors Sarah Jane Kerwin (left) and Emma Lehmann (right) race to the finish line. Kerwin and Lehmann finished fourth and fifth respectively at the North Coast Athletic Conference Championship meet.

Juniors Sarah Jane Kerwin (left) and Emma Lehmann (right) race to the finish line. Kerwin and Lehmann finished fourth and fifth respectively at the North Coast Athletic Conference Championship meet.

Tyler Sloan, Editor in Chief

For the fifth year in a row, the women’s cross country team won first place in the North Coast Athletic Conference, held at Allegheny College on Nov. 2. The top-tier team placed four players within the top 10 runners at the event, accumulating 45 points for the Yeowomen. Ohio Wesleyan University trailed behind with 57 points to earn second place, and Kenyon tallied 86 for third.

“It was the worst conditions we’ve ever run in,” said junior Kyle Neal, referring to a torrential downpour and an extremely muddy course. “That makes it hard to gauge how I did but I was happy with the team’s results.”

The Yeowomen’s top five runners earned the accolade of All-NCAC honors for finishing within the top 21 runners. Sarah Jane Kerwin led the pack, placing fourth overall with a time of 23 minutes, 17 seconds. Following her were juniors Emma Lehmann, Kyle Neal, and seniors Molly Martorella and Lauren Taylor. First-year Emily Curley also made her debut over the weekend at her first NCAC Conference Championship and placed 28th in the event.

“The conditions were really muddy,” said Lehmann. “But I thought the team did a really good job staying tough. Overall, we had a good performance. Sarah Jane really rose to the occasion.”

Head Coach Ray Appenheimer lived up to his title as NCAC Coach of the Year over the weekend. During Appenheimer’s ten seasons at Oberlin, he has coached an extremely successful group of runners. Just last year, he led the Yeowomen to the NCAA National Championships where they finished ninth, the highest rank in Oberlin’s history. Last season’s squad also boasted nine All-NCAC runners. Cumulatively, Appenheimer has coached 336 all-conference and 32 all-region runners. His athletes have broken 128 school records and have won 104 conference championships. Additionally, he has coached 16 national qualifiers.

The Yeomen showcased successfully at the event as well, finishing fourth overall with a total of 122 points. Wabash College took first at the event with only 30 total points and five of their runners finishing within the top ten. Allegheny clinched second with 46 points, and The College of Wooster locked up third place with a tally of 95 points.

Sophomore Geno Arthur was the Yeomen’s top runner at the event, finishing sixth overall at the race. He ran the 8K in 27 minutes, 15 seconds, and was trailed by second-scoring Yeomen Joshua Urso. Urso finished 17th overall with a time of 27:58. The two were the only members of the Yeomen who left the weekend earning titles at the event. Arthur earned first-team All-NCAC honors for the first time; during his rookie year, he earned second-team honors. After a competitive race, Urso earned a spot on the All-NCAC Honorable-Mention team.

Appenheimer noted that the team’s strong current junior class gives him high hopes for the future of the team. He is looking forward to upcoming seasons when the young group will continue to improve.

For both sides of the program, this means advancing to the NCAA Great Lakes Regional competition taking place in Grand Rapids, Michigan at Calvin College on Nov. 16. If either team prevails at the event, it will continue on to compete in the national competition. For the Yeowomen, this could be a shot at claiming their place as number one after a ninth-place finish at the tournament last season.

“I’m hoping to run with and work off of each other [at the Regional meet],” said Neal. “I want to move and be strong together.”

“Regionals will be a really important race for us. One of the really big national contenders, Calvin [College] is ranked top five nationally, and if we all have our best races we stand a chance at winning,” said Lehmann.

The top two teams at the regional meet will automatically qualify for the NCAA national championships. However, the team’s performance this season gives them a good chance at receiving an at-large bid regardless of whether or not they are victorious.