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The Scarlet & Black

Women’s cross country starts off strong by winning meet

Women’s cross country sets the tone for a strong season

The Grinnell College women’s cross country team began their season with an impressive win last Friday Aug. 31, finishing first out of three teams at the Central College Dutch Invitational in Pella.

The Pioneers finished therace with seven runners in the top 15, including Mikayla Fujiwara ’20 and Anna Ahrens ’19 who were second and third, respectively. The team outran Central College by a score of 35-37, with Clarke University coming in third with 54 points.

“It was wonderful to have all my teammates there racing next to me,” said Emma Schaefer ’22, who finished eighth in her first race. “It’s exciting for all of us, especially considering that this was the first race of the season. Winning the meet is always exciting.”

While the Central invitational was the team’s first race of the year, it was the first-years’ introduction to college cross country overall. Therefore, Head Coach Evelyn Freeman typically uses this race as a practice for the rest of the season. “It’s our way of getting runners readjusted to running in races,” she said.

“We ran it at what we call a threshold pace, so it was sort of a high quality workout,” Freeman said “It’s our way of getting runners readjusted to running in races. Our goal was not to race it, but yeah, it’s nice to win the meet even though it was not our intention.”

“Basically, you stay with your pace group until you get to the two-mile marker,” said Tori LaVerdiere ’20, who finished 10th in the meet. “After the-two mile marker you are allowed to do whatever feels comfortable, whether that’s to speed up or slow down. Its helpful for us because it’s a very small meet and it just helps us all get comfortable racing and builds everyone’s confidence.”

This year the women’s cross country team has nine first-years, a large number for an incoming class. “The threshold pace is helpful for our first-years particularly,” Freeman said. “It’s easy to go out really fast because it’s your first race and you feel good, but it’s useful so as not to rush things for them.”

Currently, the team is preparing for the Les Duke home meet happening this upcoming Saturday. Though the past couple of weeks have brought a lot of rain, the Pioneers are scheduled to host the Les Duke Invitational on the Grinnell College Golf Course this coming Saturday. “Despite the rain my preparation doesn’t really change,” LaVerdiere said. “We’re preparing to run in fairly muddy conditions, but that also means that the race may be slow. If that’s the case, the race will become much more mental as you worry more about who you are racing against rather than your time.”

Freeman is hoping that the rain holds off, but is excited to get another look at the team in a more competitive setting. The plan will be to slowly wean the runners off of the two-mile threshold pace and kick into race mode earlier on.

“Its still too early to start thinking about our goals for conference,” Freeman said. “But I am pretty excited to see what this team can do. I like our prospects.”

Women’s cross country sets the tone for a strong season
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