The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

The Duke returns— Runners, fans, alums pumped up

By Elizabeth Pearce & Michael Schoelz

It’s big.

It’s long.

And people love it.

The Men’s and Women’s Cross-Country teams are running in the Les Duke Invitational this Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Oakland Acres Golf Course. The Duke, which is one of only two home meets this year, showcases over 1000 runners and 25 teams.

“We don’t have a lot of home meets and it’s really nice because the swim team comes out to cheer and a lot of students and parents come out to watch,” Lindsey Wheeler ’10 said. “We really like to see familiar faces out there. For people who haven’t seen cross-country races before, it’s a really intense experience.”

“On some parts of the course you feel like you’re running through a tunnel of people and noise,” Men’s Captain David Montgomery ’10 said in an e-mail.

This weekend will mark the 46th annual Les Duke and competitors are coming out in droves to get a piece of the course.

“It’s going to be a huge field because we’re hosting the NCAA regional meet again in November,” Head Women’s Cross-Country coach Evelyn Freeman said. “Most of these teams will come to run the course and get a feel for the course before running in November.”

But the competition isn’t the only attraction—the meet generates a lot of excitement for several groups on campus.

“All the swimmers come in their speedos and Russell K [Osgood] is running this year,” Erik Jarvis ’12 said. “But my favorite part of Les Duke is the day before the meet the Men’s and Women’s team get naked and run around campus saying come to the meet.”

Because Les Duke is not only a major invitational, but is also hosted at home, many alumni runners will be returning for the event, both to compete in their own division apart from the college, and to support the current team.

“It’s really exciting because we’re celebrating 35 years of Grinnell women’s cross-country and 30 years of Evelyn coaching,” Captain Nora Colter ’10 said.

The alumni will be seeing a lot of new faces this year, with 10 first years contributing to the largest Women’s team in history. A record 42 Grinnell women went out for this year’s team and Freeman feels that the freshman class is reflective of the team as a whole.

“The freshman class has come in with a lot of strong talent,” Wheeler said. “They seem to have really good attitudes. Our coach talks a lot about how everyone contributes and the nice thing about running at Grinnell is that there’s 42 women on the team right now, so if you’re not in the top seven you’re in the bottom 35, which is nice company to be in.”

The men are also included in that company.

“We are two different teams [the Men and the Women] but at the same time, especially outside of practice, we’re very close,” Colter said.

Jarvis sees the two teams as almost inseparable.

“Having Will and Evelyn as our coaches and married is perfect symbolism for the teams,” Jarvis said. “We eat all our meals together, most of us sleep together and we do our homework together.”

Due to last year’s success, the Men’s team has entered this season ranked 26th.  At the Midwest Conference Championship last season, the men who refer to themselves as the Purple Roos, won with a perfect score of 15, for only the third time in history, and qualified for the Divison III National championship.

“The ranking is a testament to the strength of last year’s team more than anything else,” Chris Wilson ’11 said in an email. “I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen so far this year in practice, but Saturday will be the real test.”

However, that doesn’t mean that the ranking is not a source of pride for the men.

“It’s exciting to see that Grinnell Cross Country is beginning to be respected nationwide.” Montgomery said

But more important than the ranking, both teams hope to have success come the end of the season.

“Obviously, we’re not going to lie about wanting a repeat of last year,” Tim Hederman ’10 said. “Winning the conference and getting past the Region to Nationals would be a great accomplishment. But we’re not going to sweat that just yet. We’re focused on training hard and racing fast, and that’s that for now. For me personally, this is my last Les Duke, so I just want to go out there and feel like I left everything I could on Oakland Acres. If that’s how Saturday turns out, then I’ll be satisfied.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *