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Lords, Ladies XC dominate invite

By Alex Pijanowski

A cross country team that resoundingly wins its first competition of the season will generally have high expectations heading into its second event of the year. Neither the men’s nor women’s squad faltered under the weight of this pressure when they ran on Saturday, Sept. 7 in Delaware, Ohio.

In an event hosted by Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU), two meets were combined into one race but scored separately: the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) Championship and the OWU Invitational. In the GLCA meet, the Lords tied for first place, while in the OWU meet, they tied for third. The Ladies placed second in both meets.

Sam Lagasse ’16 finished with the best men’s time at the Kenyon Tri-Meet on Aug. 31 and did not lose a step on Saturday. His time of 26:14.8 was good for fourth place in the GLCA meet and ninth in the Invitational. Willy Friedlander ’14 finished seventh and 14th, respectively, and Nat Fox ’16 finished eighth and 18th.

Natalie Plick ’16, who won the women’s event at the Tri-Meet and also set a course and meet record, won both meets with a time of 18:47.8. A trio of seniors, Jenna Willett ’14, Kerry Strader ’14 and Tory Bruch ’14, also placed highly, finishing in fifth, eighth and ninth places in the GLCA field.

Fox credited the team’s recent performance as a combination of both teamwork and individual successes, and praised what he sees as a positive attitude toward competition. He explained that there is a “subtle distinction between running with somebody on your team and running beside them.” To function as a team and not merely as a group of people running at the same time, it is imperative that “you know that you are focused on the same goals, and that you have the same mindset when you’re running,” Fox said.

Since the start of training this year, the team has steadily calibrated its approach toward working together, they said. The Lords have many goals in mind this season, chief among them a trip to nationals at the end of the season. Fox added that “[last year] we really realized that we had the talent to do it.”

The Lords have not been to nationals since 2000. A bid this year would be a very welcome achievement.

The Ladies, meanwhile, will focus on maintaining their form from a year ago, when they placed 28th at the NCAA tournament. In a preseason ranking released on Aug. 28, the Ladies were ranked third in the region, and 21st nationally. Their recent strong showing and historically superb performance at the end of the season make it likely that they will appear at the meet again, since Head Coach Duane Gomez said the Ladies “are always a really good late-season team.”

According to Gomez, the upcoming Pre-Regional Knight Invite at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. will be a “really big meet” for both teams; that meet will take place on Saturday, Sept. 14.

Gomez noted that “both teams have continued to improve throughout the season,” and have continued to train with vigor and dedication. For this reason, he is expecting the Pre-Regional Knight Invite to be another successful meet for the Kenyon cross country teams.

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