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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

XC Women Beast to First in MWC, Men fall to second

The Grinnell Women’s Cross Country team has been living up to their name in recent weeks. The Beasts earned their 17th Conference title on Oct. 29 at the Midwest Conference (MWC) Championships in Ripon, Wisc., beating Monmouth by four points and St. Norbert by 10 points.  Coach Evelyn Freeman was named the Midwest Conference Coach of the Year after the meet.

“We knew it was going to be a really tight race because we’ve competed against [Monmouth and St. Norbert] various times throughout the season, so it was going to come down to whoever was on that day and whoever was healthy that day,” Freeman said.

The win comes off of a recent boost in training intensity.  The women have been working harder than ever, including the first years who have been improving tremendously.

“It’s been a great season, the whole team has really bought into the program. The freshmen are really training hard and have made big jumps the last few weeks, not only in their racing but also in their training,” Freeman said.  “It’s amazing the difference that has happened in the last month, you can just see them getting fit and so there are one or two freshmen in our top group but even if they are not [in the top group] they’re improving a lot and usually you’ll see a big jump their sophomore year.”

Demonstrating that big second-year jump were Sarah Burnell ’14, Meg Rudy ’14 and Cassidy White ’14, who placed fourth, 14th and 20th, respectively. Top spots were also earned by captain Hannah Colter ’12 in fifth place and by Stephanie Rouse ’12 in seventh place. The race was very tight, and at the end it was difficult to tell who had won.

“We were really close with St. Norbert and Monmouth, you couldn’t tell. So once they announced [that we had won] all the girls started cheering and screaming and some girls were tearing up,” said Diana Seer ’15, who took 21st at Conference.

The season has been successful for the women both on and off the course. The team has bonded a lot, contributing to the recent push in training and to the success last weekend. “This year I’ve been really happy with the team dynamic, we’ve been really close and have really used that to work together and be really positive about what we can do together as a team,” Colter said. “It’s not ever just one person who does it for the team.”

Looking forward to regionals, Coach Freeman and the women are very optimistic.

“It’s always tough to qualify as a team [for nationals] but we are ranked ninth in our region and we have beaten some of the teams that are ranked ahead of us. Right now we’re pretty healthy and [before this] we haven’t really had a meet where we’ve been 100 percent healthy,” Freeman said. “So we have an outside shot, depending on if we’re on and what other teams do.”

The Men’s Team is also looking ahead to Regionals and Nationals after a second place finish at the MWC Championships. The Purple Roos has won the previous 15 Conference Championships. Despite the setback, the Roos are not hanging up their sneakers.

“We’re really rallying around this one central goal, which is to win Regionals and make it back to Nationals, to get a top 20 finish and improve upon our place from last year,” Ben Tyler ’14 said.

Tyler led the team at conference with a second place finish, followed closely by Erik Figge ’13 in third. Both runners, along with Sam Krauth ’14 in 11th place and Frank Canady ’14 in 15th, earned All-Conference honors. Harry Maher ’15 also scored points for the team in 22nd place. The men all ran a good race, despite injuries plaguing Canady and Nate Kakazu ’13, who took 27th. The training this year has been intense and members of the team have come together to push each other to be better.

“Throughout the season it seems like people are racing for each other more and more and the team dynamic has just increased. It’s a natural progression,” Tyler said.

Like the women, the men find themselves running to support their team and encourage others to push themselves just as hard.

“Sometimes I feel like I would train very little if I didn’t know that I owed it to other people on the team to train and I think that’s also going to help for next year because running fundamentally is a really competitive sport and nobody really likes to lose. The way you win is you train as a team,” Krauth said.

The runners attribute the second place finish more to the increase in speed of the other teams.

“We are still running faster than [Grinnell] teams have in the past but the other teams are getting better, which is good because it’ll make everybody faster in the long run,” Tyler said.

The men’s race was even closer than the preceding women’s competition. Grinnell finished two points behind Lawrence, with a final score of 53-51.

“We got beat by a really good team,” Krauth said. “I wish I could have nipped a few guys off at the end but overall I think that I had a good race.”

“It could have been just another day, and a place could have been switched around,” Kakazu said.

The focus for the men now goes to training for Regionals and making the rest of their season count.

“Our mindset is that the end of the season counts the most. Our end goal isn’t conference,” Tyler said. “We’re all really focused on our main goal with nationals.”

Luckily, the runners maintain confidence in order to continue training for their next challenge at regionals.

“We do have the guys and the speed to [achieve the goal], which is more than enough reason to train through,” Krauth said.

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