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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Men’s XC anticipate Les Duke

The #19 ranked Grinnell men’s cross country team went to the Dutch Invitational at Central College last Saturday with a plan. Don’t be deceived by their fourth place—out of eight—finish. The team wasn’t exactly gearing up for a race just yet. The invitational itself was just a warm-up for what lies ahead.

Mens Cross Country
Members of the Grinnell men's cross country team go out for a practice run along Penrose Avenue on Tuesday afternoon - Chris Barbey

“We didn’t race Central,” Coach Will Freeman said. “We ran a threshold run as a quality workout. We could have won the meet, had we just chosen to race. The reason we did not race is that we are on a 14 day training cycle, racing only every other weekend. Since we are racing at our big home meet this coming weekend, we made Central a threshold training run instead of racing. We had eight runners finish within a second of each other, and it went perfectly.”

The home event Coach Freeman alluded to is one of the bigger events on campus this week. Known as Les Duke, Grinnell’s major home cross country meet is named after G. Lester Duke, Grinnell’s former Hall of Fame track coach and long-standing Dean of Mmen—which, believe it or not, was once an administrative position at the College. The event has gained notoriety over the years, bringing over 500 athletes and another thousand spectators and coaches to the Oakland Acres Golf Course, —four miles west of town.

There is an overall optimism that has taken hold of the Cross Country team. “It’s a fast course, close to home, and you have good teammates. As well as there will be 6000 flags around the golf course where the run will take place,” said Shyam Deshpande ’11.

The runners like the idea of hosting a major cross-country event. Alex Reich ’11, and Noah DeLong ’ ‘11 agreed that being at home is an advantage,. “Sleeping in one’s own bed, …knowing the course, …and seeing people you know are a huge advantage for us,” Reich said.

Being ranked in the national top 20 only helps to add excitement surrounding Les Duke. “Many first year runners who are as good as ours would try to get into Division I programs … and many of those schools have to wait for those freshman to move up to varsity. So I think that’s an advantage we have,” DeLong said.

It’s a strong, deep team this year for mMen’s cross country, with seven of the top eight runners from last year returning, including three all-region performers.

The Les Duke Invitational begins at 10:00 a.m. with the women’s 66 kilometer race. The men follow at 10:45, running their 8 kilometer race. Shuttle buses will be available to take students to the course and will leave from the front of the Bear Center every half an hour beginning at 8:00 a.m.

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