By Brian Hess
In a race defined by hills and deep puddles of mud, Kenyon’s cross country teams took to the course in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Championship in Meadville, Pa. Paced by Nat Fox ’16 and Sam Lagasse ’16, the Lords ran to a sixth-place finish, while the Ladies, led by Co-Captain Jenna Willett ’14, Co-Captain Kerry Strader ’14 and Lizzie Halper ’15, finished in third place.
Despite the rough conditions, the Ladies captured a top-three finish behind a number of strong performances. Willett nearly placed with an individual conference title, finishing only four seconds behind the individual winner, resulting in a second-place finish and a first-team All-Conference selection.
Not too far behind was Halper, who finished 13th overall and earned a second-team All-Conference designation. Rounding out the top-20 finishes for the Ladies was Strader, who finished 18th and took home an All-Conference honorable mention.
“Lizzie Halper had her best race of the season,” Head Coach Duane Gomez said. “[Willett, Halper and Strader] ran well over their heads, so we’re really happy with that. It was pouring down rain and you didn’t know how it was going to affect them, but they were very positive on the starting line. We could have easily placed sixth, but they just came through, and top three in our conference is really amazing.”
While the Lords didn’t place as highly in individual performances, they just missed on a top-five finish and placed two runners in the top 20. Fox finished 13th and was deemed worthy of an All-NCAC second-team selection.
“Our best performance was by Nat Fox,” Gomez said. “He’s just been this really steady performer all year.”
Lagasse, who at one point during the race was within the top five, finished 18th and earned All-Conference honorable mention.
“[Lagasse] had one heck of a race going; if he could have just held on a little longer [he could have been top five],” Gomez said. “He has the potential to be a top runner like that.”
The Lords and Ladies have some time off before the NCAA Regional Championship on Nov. 16 in the hopes of qualifying for a spot in the NCAA Championships. In order to do so, Gomez says his runners will have to push themselves, but he says they’re capable.
“If they can all go crazy like they did at conference then we have a chance of getting in [to Nationals]. They have just as good a chance as anyone else,” Gomez said. “We talked about how hard they’ve trained all year, and you really want to make all that pay off. We talked about running for each other as a team, because if you’re out there running for each other, you have a tendency to really push a lot more when you have to. When it hurts so bad you can’t do it for yourself, that’s when you have to do it for the team.”
Additional reporting by Ian Round ’16.