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Cross country repeats as MWC champions

Stewart Bass ’18 raises the Grinnell flag at Midwest Conference Championships. Photo contributed.

The men’s and women’s cross country teams had what can only be described as a successful weekend. Both the men and women captured the Midwest Conference (MWC) title. For the men, this was the 17th MWC crown in the past 18 seasons, and the 27th of the last 29 years. For the women, the Conference title was their eighth in the past 11 years.

Beating runner-up Carroll University by 11 points, Grinnell men’s team had two of the top three runners. Adam Dalton ’16 placed second in the eight-kilometer race with a time of 25:49.24 while Anthony McLean ’17 finished third with 25:54.69.

“Everyone ran incredibly well, so it was a great meet for us,” said Evan Griffith ’15, who finished ninth with a time of 26:18.78, in what was his second All-Conference win.

Dalton also earned All-Conference honors for the third time while McLean claimed his second All-Conference honors. But the individual honors still could not top the thrill of defending the Conference titles.

“It’s a pretty special feat, but pales in comparison to the three team championships we have had since I have been here,” Dalton said.

McLean’s time was the 34th fastest in program history.

“Anthony has worked incredibly hard this season and has been really dedicated and 100 percent deserving of the race he had,” Griffith said.

The course was very flat and easy, and the runners all agreed that the most difficult part of the race was pacing themselves.

“In Conference, people tend to get pretty excited and sprint the first mile, which is not a good plan,” Griffith said.

McLean, Dalton and Griffith all attribute the team’s history of success to men’s head coach Will Freeman.

“It speaks to the success of Coach Freeman’s focus on an athlete-centered model and also taking into account that his athletes are students as well,” McLean said.

“He knows how to develop his guys in a way that’s fun and creates a great team atmosphere,” Dalton added.

For the women, what was expected to be a tight race turned into a 57-67 win over runner-up St. Norbert College.

Five of Grinnell’s runners earned All-Conference honors, including Alosha Southern ’17, who finished seventh in 23:03.41. That time ranks 10th in program history.

“I just wanted to feel like I left it all out there and I think I did,” Southern said. 

Stewart Bass ’18 raises the Grinnell flag at Midwest Conference Championships. Photo contributed.
Stewart Bass ’18 raises the Grinnell flag at Midwest Conference Championships. Photo contributed.

Other honorees include Paulina Campbell ’16, who finished eighth with a time of 23:05.06, Diana Seer ’15 (10th in 23:08.84), Emma Luhmann ’18 (15th in 23:24.81) and Clare Roberts ’16 (17th in 23:32.62).

“We just wanted to go out there and have fun and we did,” Southern said.

Southern and women’s head coach Evelyn Freeman stressed that while the Pioneers had no runners finish in the top five, the team’s depth was the key to winning the race.

“It was just a phenomenal performance down the line,” Freeman said.

According to both Freeman and Southern, the team knew the race was going to be competitive, which may have been a blessing in disguise.

“We went into the Conference meet feeling a great mixture of excitement, nervousness, confidence,” Freeman said. “It was a perfect balance of all of those things heading into the meet.”

Southern credits her coach for the team’s extraordinary finish.

“Coach does a really great job of making it a welcoming, enjoyable environment,” she said. “You feel like you have the potential to perform at your best.”

Looking forward to NCAA Division III Regional Championships on Nov. 15 in Pella, Iowa, both teams will continue normal training while trying not to think too much about their competition.

“We are trying not to worry about what other teams are doing or what they have done. We can’t control them,” Southern said.

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