Cross country first years excel at conference, end season strong


Contributed by James Snyder

Grinnell’s cross country teams finished second at the Midwest Conference tournament. The team’s first years paced the group with four out of seven top finishes for the men’s and women’s teams.

Marcy Cassidy-Mapp, Staff Writer

After a strong performance at the Midwest Conference Championship, Grinnell’s men’s and women’s cross country teams ended their seasons at the NCAA Division III Regional Tournament. Each team finished second at the Conference event on Oct. 29. 

The winners of each of the nation’s 10 regions advance to the NCAA Division III Nationals to compete against 22 other at-large teams. Grinnell finished 14th of 37 teams with 421 points, showcasing solid performances from both teams. On the men’s team, Connor Heagy `26,  John Miller `26 and Luke Robinson `26 finished 88th with a time of 27:20.6, 104th with a time of 27:31.8 and 119th with a time of 27:49.3, respectively. On the women’s team, Keely Miyamoto`26 finished with a time of 23:31.4 in 41st place and Hannah Roark `22 ran a 23:58.7, coming in 54th place. 

Mira Diamond `25 earned the title of the Elite Twenty Award, which is awarded to the athlete in the conference with the highest GPA.

The teams saw especially strong performances from their first-year runners in the Midwest Conference Championship, who represented four out of each team’s top seven finishes. 

“We’re just in a really good place to feel comfortable in that second place position, knowing that we can reach first,” said Coach Sarah Burnell. “Walking away from the season, we should walk away from this feeling very hungry, very hungry for more because there’s a lot of potential left in there. First place is not out of reach, and that should be almost like an expectation of theirs.” 

Luke Robinson `26 was named MWC Newcomer of the Year, an award that has only been awarded to one other Grinnell student in history, Andrew Nickeson `24. Robinson, Nickeson and Connor Heagy `26 finished in sixth through eighth places, with respective times of 26:18.61, 26:26.80 and 26:29.24. 

“We had a lot of injuries, a lot of school going on and navigating, you know, the first semester of college, especially as a young team,” Robinson said. “A lot of us are freshmen. So yeah, it was tough, but we got it done and it’s been a good season.” 

With this tight loss, the team still got a taste of their own potential. Several of the returning members weren’t content or satisfied with second place, looking forward to claiming first place next year. 

“We’re really looking forward to the coming years, not even just next season,” Heagy said. “Everyone on the team, we’re new here, so now that we got everything under our belts, we’re really gonna start improving a lot, so we’re all excited.” 

 Miyamoto, women’s Newcomer of the Year, noted team culture as an important part of the team’s success. Traditions, like writing personal mantras on their hands before races and dinners at Burnell’s house, contribute to a sense of community that supports each runner’s success. 

“It’s blown me away with just how supportive everyone is and just how close-knit the community on the team is,” Miyamoto said. “And all of the upperclassmen really were really phenomenal people to look up to during my first term.”