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Men’s and Women’s cross country finish first at Midwest Confrence

Both the men’s and the women’s cross country teams finished first out of ten teams at the Midwest Conference. Contributed.


Both the men’s and the women’s cross country teams finished first out of ten teams at the Midwest Conference. Contributed.

The Grinnell College men’s and women’s cross country teams ended their regular season with dominating performances last Friday. Both teams got the finished first out of the ten teams at the MWC championship hosted by Knox College.

For the men’s cross country team, the pioneers earned 65 points, finishing with four runners in the top 20. The team outran Monmouth College by 14 points.   

“When we were coming into last little bit of the race, there is a large pack of runners from Grinnell’s men’s team altogether up at the front, that was really cool,” said Matt Lieberman ’20 who finished ninth in the meet.   

“I was there in the race and didn’t think that I had any business beating other runners, and I was passing them. I was little confused. I was expecting to get top ten, but I wasn’t expecting to beat some people,” said Andrew Nickeson ’23 who finished fourth in the meet.    

The women’s cross-country team also showed incredible results, earning 31 points. They beat Monmouth College by 26 points, with five runners in the top 20. “The men’s team’s success definitely added to our excitement for our race,” said Rachel Bottum ’23 who finished the meet in twenty-sixth place.    

“The meet was conference, which is the biggest meet for us. I think it was incredible that we got to see our hard work of running through all the other races paid off. I am really happy for our teammates who earned those honors,” said Emma Schaefer ’22 who placed sixth in the race.   

Entering the conference, despite the adversities, the team had a positive mentality. Two experienced runners could not run at the MWC championship for men’s cross country team. The conditions for the day weren’t ideal either; the ground was muddy, and the weather was windy and cold. “Everyone was running on the same course, so even though it might not be an ideal condition, we are struggling through together. Our coach really helped us focus on inner circles that we can control rather than outer circles that you cannot control,” Schaefer said.      

“Our top returners could not run in the meet. To go into this meet without those two, I think the deck was probably stacked against us. We had to have a couple of people to really step up, and they did it. I was concerned but at least, but this team really developed over the season. This meet was a demonstration of overcoming things. Entering the conference, I think they were confident,” said Will Freeman, the men’s cross country coach.     

“The season was going really well, people were improving and deep as far as having quite a few scoring runners in our top running group. Everything looked positive, we were thinking positive, and affirm ourselves, and to challenge ourselves and actually race,” said Evelyn Freeman, the women’s cross country coach.    

The conference meet was an opportunity to show all the team’s effort and development. The coaches focused on the maintenance of the health of athletes and mental training when getting close to the championship.    

“There are two parts of the preparation. One is a physical adaption … we tried to push people outside their comfort zone on a regular basis. Then, the results of workout shown to the runners are concrete evidence that they are getting better, so that’s helping them with the mental side of it,” said Will Freeman.   

Despite the challenges present on race day, Evelyn Freeman isn’t surprised by the team’s performance. “We’ve been preparing all season long. One of the things that helped our preparation for the conference championship is that for the past since September 14th, every single raced we ran, we have raced in the rain, soft ground, mud and adverse conditions. It is not unusual for Grinnellians to rise to the challenge and handle adverse conditions really well,” said Evelyn Freeman.   

After the MWC championship, the top seven runners are preparing for the regional meet. Both teams are expecting more improvements and better results for the next season. “Most of the people in our top seven are non-fourth years, so we have a lot of really good runners returning. I think that makes more exciting for next year,” Lieberman said.

Schaefer, who will be running at regionals, looked ahead to the future. “I think just to continue progressing, and I really enjoy races when I am able to run with my teammates, and we can push each other. For more of that, for regionals, we are all able to do that,” Schaefer said.   

It is the last season for both coaches who led the team to their triumph, and they believe that the teams will continue to show great performances going into regionals.   

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