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The Scarlet & Black

Cross country teams host Les Duke Invitational

The men’s cross country team finished ahead of nationally ranked Carleton College to finish second. Photo by Sarah Trop.

At last Saturday’s Les Duke Invitational, the cross country teams’ only home event of the year, the Pioneers demonstrated why they were ranked regionally in the preseason poll. Beating out a nationally ranked opponent, the men’s team finished second overall, while the women came in fourth.

The Pioneers credit their success to the home-field advantage they had.

“I learned that it’s really important to have that team support … and also how helpful supporters can be because when you’re tired and someone cheers for you, it just makes you go a little bit faster,” said Paulina Campbell ’16.

And when your friends and classmates are cheering in their speedos, the runners cannot help but get the extra energy boost.

“It’s less of a pressure and more of an excitement to run before the home crowd, in front of all the crazy cheering fans from Grinnell and swimmers decked out in their speedos,” said Adam Dalton ’16. “You get the chance to relish the moments of running at home and just live in the moment and take advantage of that.”

Dalton led the way on the men’s side as he finished sixth overall among 181 runners with a time of 26:06 in the eight-kilometer race. Following Dalton came Evan Griffith ’15 and Anthony McLean ’17, who finished ninth and 11th, respectively.

The Pioneers’ overall results are even more impressive considering they beat out the 26th nationally ranked Carleton College.

“Carleton was nationally ranked so I didn’t think at this point of the season that we’d be competing with them,” Dalton said. “So it was a really awesome surprise that we actually beat them.”

The men’s cross country team finished ahead of nationally ranked Carleton College to finish second. Photo by Sarah Trop.
The men’s cross country team finished ahead of nationally ranked Carleton College to finish second. Photo by Sarah Trop.

Such a successful win boosted the team’s spirit and assurance of each member’s capacity.

“There were a few things I needed to remind myself about but [overall as a team] I think I learned that we’re pretty fit and … can improve for the rest of the season,” Griffith said.

On the other side, the women’s team also ran a successful race as well. The team’s focused mindset heading into the Duke played a large role in the Pioneers’ accomplishment.

“[Our team] talked about trying to find an appropriate race pace, how to be comfortable the first mile,” Campbell said. “We talked about … what we wanted out of the race and how we were going to work as a team.”

With that goal in mind during the race, Alosha Southern ’17 lead Grinnell with a 12th place finish. In the 158-runner race, she completed the six-kilometer race in a time of 23:29 and Campbell finished right behind with a time of 23:50, placing 20th overall.

“Everyone wanted to perform really well in front of their friends and people they knew from the community,” Campbell said. “People had higher hopes and expectations of themselves because they’re at home.”

While expectations were met at the Duke and both the men and women enjoyed success last weekend, the Pioneers are not ready to stop rolling. Regionally ranked 10th and eighth, respectively, in the preseason rankings, the Pioneers are ready to take the extra step to defend their reputation.

“[The Duke] is something that we can concretely see as a measure of how we performed and how we exceeded expectations so far,” Dalton said. “And we can use that momentum to keep the proverbial ball rolling in terms of getting through the season and using that as a nice … starting point.”

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