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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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Men’s and Women’s XC bring home another gold

Even with inches of mud slowing the pace, the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams crossed the MWC Championship’s finish line and emerged victorious, with a conference title and a ticket to the regional competition awarded to both teams.

On Saturday, Oct. 31, the Grinnell Men’s Cross Country team won their 13th conference title in a row, making their total league titles 26. In a come-from-behind victory, the Women’s team also finished first, making this win their 16th league title total. 

When the teams arrived at the course the day prior to the race to evaluate and get a feeling for the course, conditions weren’t exactly ideal for competition.

 “When you were a kid, did you have a slip-n-slide? Yeah. It was like that,” Dan Krauss ’12 said. Heavy amounts of rain the day before had made the course extraordinarily muddy, leaving inches of mud on the runners’ shoes as they attempted to run the course.

Luckily, having time to scout out the courses the day before allowed the runners to  mentally prepare themselves for the race day, which actually ended up being better conditions than they expected.

“The day before we ran the course just to see the conditions and it was about 10 times worse than it actually ended up being,” Leah Russell ’11 said. “I think it changed our mentalities a lot because people started freaking out in the beginning saying that you had to go out super hard because you wouldn’t be able to pass people but then as we got closer to the race we realized that it wasn’t going to be that different, people started to calm down, we just had to talk about how to take the turns and how to get around it.”

Clearly, preparation paid off. On the men’s side, Purple Roo runners finished four out of the top five. Dan Krauss ’12 sealed a first place finish in a time of 26:42.13 with teammates directly behind—Noah Delong ’12 in second, Alex Reich ’11 in third and David Montgomery ’10 in fifth.

“The four of us—Monty and I and Alex and Noah—all really showed that we’re ready for regional’s in the conference race,” Krauss said.

But the core four weren’t the only ones to perform well. 

“[Mike] Gallagher [’10] really stepped up on a course that—well let’s just say you wouldn’t really expect Gallagher to be a hill runner,” Krauss said. “He really worked hard and had a great race a lot of other guys were up with him and we’re confident as a team that we can win regionals.”

However, while the Roos were slated to win, the Women’s team—the Skull Crushers—was completely surprised with their first place finish at the conference awards ceremony.

“Nora [Coulter ’10] saw [Coach Evelyn Freeman] crying and was like, ‘Why is Evelyn crying you guys?’ and she went up to Evelyn and was like, ‘Is everything okay?’,” Whitfield said. “We were all thinking, ‘Maybe Evelyn’s really proud of us because we got second’.”

This disbelief in their win stemmed from the fact that the Skull Crushers weren’t the favorites going into the race. 

“On paper it looked like Caroll was between 15 and 20 points ahead of second place which was us and we were one point ahead of Monmouth and they were just a few points ahead of St. Norbert,” Head Women’s Cross Country Coach Evelyn Freeman said. “But we knew that we hadn’t shown our full strength and so we had talked about this and we knew it was going to be an uphill battle but we all had to come through.”

And come through they did. With Russell, Hannah Coulter and Maja Gamble finishing sixth, seventh and eighth respectively, in addition to Whitfield’s 20th place finish and Sasha Dunbar ’13 in 21st, the Skull Crushers had just enough points to earn first place.

“They announced third and second and it was like, ‘We did it…we did it!’” Rachel Whitfield ’10 said. “It was such a team effort and it was so special to have us both up here and each of the teams getting a first place trophy.”

But both teams didn’t get to celebrate for long, as they had to keep practicing and preparing for the regional competition, which takes place this Saturday at Grinnell’s home course at Oakland Acres Golf Course.

Practices this week and the week prior have been fairly similar to the intensity of regular season practices, as neither teams are necessarily tapering for the event, but are strategically cutting back to ensure that they’re ready to run their best come Saturday moring. “We’re not changing too much, we’re taking a little bit off Tuesday’s workout, which is a speed day,” Krauss said. “Just dropping the volume a little so we feel really fresh and perky come Saturday.”

So come watch the cross country teams storm regionals this Saturday at Oakland Acres. Shuttle buses will be leaving from the PEC beginning at 9 a.m. and will shuttle back and fourth every half hour. The men compete at 11 a.m. and the women’s team competes at noon.

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