By Alex Pijanowski
Lords and Ladies cross-country raced in their first large-scale meet of the season this weekend at the Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) Invitational in Delaware, Ohio. As a team, the Lords finished seventh, and the Ladies claimed sixth.
Sam Lagasse ’16 maintained his positioning from last season as the top runner for the men’s squad, finishing the eight-kilometer course in second place overall with a personal best time of 25:46.8. Nat Fox ’16 also cracked the top 10, finishing with a 10th-place time of 26:52.3.
Head Coach Duane Gomez praised Lagasse’s relentless work ethic, which he believes is a major contributing factor to his dominance.
“Sam’s running is phenomenal — he’s going to be really, really good this year,” Gomez said. “He ran 16 miles the day before the race, and was still able to run that fast.”
Lagasse cited a recent change in circumstances which, although unrelated to Kenyon athletics, has boosted his running this fall.
“I moved to rural New Hampshire, and I just think that the difference in terrain made a huge difference,” he said. “The summer before this, I trained in Cape Cod, and the terrain there is very flat.”
Although Fox’s time is slightly slower than both of the times he turned in at this meet during his first two seasons at Kenyon, he said he was “really, really confident with my time.”
Just like the Lords, the Ladies’ top two runners were from the same class — in the Ladies’ case, the first-year class.
Molly Hunt ’18, who was first across the finish line during the Kenyon College Tri Meet, set the pace for the Ladies once again; her time of 20:08.18 was good for 18th place. Susannah Davies ’18 was not far behind, scoring in 22nd.
Running in a “pack” with her teammates is one thing that Hunt says helps her performance. “It’s always easier to run next to someone because it’s very lonely to run by yourself,” Hunt said. “You feed off of each other’s energy, which is surprisingly very important in a race.”
Hunt sees the team’s growing cohesiveness as contributing to its confidence in competitions. “As the team gets closer, and as the freshmen get to know the upperclassmen, the morale of the team has been that we are more of a team than we ever have been,” she said.
Hunt pointed to the exceptional leadership and guidance she has received from older runners as instrumental in easing the transition to competing at the collegiate level, sentiments Davies echoed.
“Both of the captains — Abby [Arace ’16] and Clara [Heiden ’15] — are fabulous,” Davies said. “I’ve been training a lot with Abby during workouts; she’s very motivating and helps me through the brutal workouts.”
While the women’s team may struggle at certain points because of the relative youth of its runners, the men will face a different challenge. At 14 members, the team is considerably smaller than it has been in recent seasons. This is a result primarily of the fact that many key members of last year’s team were seniors, and only two first years have joined the team to fill those spots. Fox, however, believes that having a small squad can be an advantage if everyone works hard enough to mitigate the difficulties.
“The people there really want to be there, and that’s great,” Fox said. “The culture is very focused on athletics, and focused on academics, but we have a really good time. We’re just working with what we’ve got.”
After having next weekend off from competition, the cross-country teams will take what they have to the NCAA Pre-Regional Meet in Wilmington, Ohio on Sept. 27.