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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
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Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm
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Pioneers break competition records

Emma Zimmerman '18 races to the finish line during a competition.
Emma Zimmerman ’18 races to the finish line during a competition.

By Teresa Fleming


Last Friday’s Brissman-Lundeen Invitational proved rewarding for the women’s cross-country team, who finished eleventh out of  24 teams. For team members Anna Ahrens ’19 and Mikayla Fujiwara ’20, whose times set records for the program’s history, the meet was also a chance to meet personal goals.

Ahrens, who finished with a time of 24:08.3, laid claim to the thirty-second fastest time in program history. She credits her improved time to the experience she has gained running in her second year on the team. As a first-year, she spent time adjusting to the 6 kilometer (6K) race length, a step up from the 5 kilometer race most athletes run in high school.

“First year, I was adjusting to college, and trying to figure out how to run a 6K, and so just experience has helped,” Ahrens said.

Fujiwara has also had to contend with the adjustment to a longer race as a first-year runner. She’s optimistic about her prospects for improving her time over the course of the season.

“I’ve never run it before. It was just trial and error. I ran in high school, but I’ve never run a 6k before,” Fujiwara said. “I think that since I’m still new to the season and running 6K’s, I just want to see if I can improve slowly, and just stay positive.”

But some challenges the team faced at the meet were more difficult to anticipate. Ahrens credits part of her time to the conditions of the race, which were a significant improvement on the previous week’s meet.

“Our meet the week before was extremely muddy because there was a huge storm the night before, so just having dry ground helped,” Ahrens said.

But Ahrens noted that even sunny days can pose challenges for the team.

“It was also 87 [degrees Fahrenheit] and no shade, which was not great for the team in general. It was rough. I would rather have mud and hills the next time, honestly.”

Regardless of weather conditions, Fukiwara said that a positive attitude is one of the most important tools for a cross country runner.

“I think it’s also having the right attitude going into it. Because if you go in with the right attitude, you can actually run it. Because the more negative you think the harder it is on you, and then the harder it is to finish.”

Ahrens added that adapting to unpredictable race conditions is one of the challenges that goes along with the sport, but the team has built-in rituals to prepare for challenging courses.

“We have affirmations week, where we just focus on staying positive the week before this meet. Knowing that it’s out of control, the weather, the conditions, and just to do the best you can under the circumstances,” Ahrens said. “But it definitely plays a way bigger factor in crosscountry than in track. Every course is different. So it’s more about the place than the time.”

Both runners acknowledged the challenges that go along with balancing coursework with a schedule full of practice, meets and team dinners. Ahrens admitted that while her motivation often wanes at the end of the semester, the skills acquired on the team help her to stay on top of schoolwork.

“It’s hard sometimes, because if we run a really hard workout I’m like, ‘shoot, I just did all that work, I don’t need to do homework. I’ve already accomplished something today,’” Ahrens said. “Athletics is something we do on top of academics. And especially distance running requires a lot of discipline, so it lends itself to discipline in academics to a certain extent, but it’s a struggle.”

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