Section: Sports

Cross-country perseveres in bad weather

Cross-country perseveres in bad weather

Molly Hunt ’18 led the Ladies’ runners for the third time this season.

By Alex Pijanowski

Heading into this weekend’s Inter-Regional Rumble in Oberlin, Ohio, spirits were high for Kenyon cross-country. Oberlin is known for its fast course, and the team was ready to put the bizarre weather of the past weekend behind it.

Unfortunately for the Lords and Ladies, conditions were anything but ideal. Head Coach Duane Gomez described the meet as “a mudfest.” Facing obstacles such as rain, ankle-deep mud, and scattered mulch, the Lords placed 23rd out of 34 teams, and the Ladies also landed in 23rd in a field of 40.

Before the meet, Gomez forwarded an encouraging email to the team that he had received from cross-country alumna Kelly Wilder ’93, a six-time All-American who is  the namesake of Kenyon’s outdoor track.

For the second week in a row, Nat Fox ’16 set the pace for the Lords; his time of 26:15.5 was good for 31st. His classmate Sam Lagasse ’16 crossed the finish line not long after at the 26:33.5 mark, a 59th-place finish. This was Lagasse’s first race back since being sidelined due to illness.

“I was excited to get back into it,” Lagasse said. “I think the illness coincided with a bit of over-training, and I’m still kind of feeling out how to fully come back from that.” Lagasse has been the Lords’ top runner for nearly the entirety of this year, so his return to form would be a major help for the team.

Molly Hunt ’18 was again the Ladies’ top runner, earning 112th place. Claire Naughton ’17 was the team’s second-place runner for the first time this season, earning 135th place. Susannah Davies ’18, who led the team the previous week, faltered a bit finishing in 147th. Davies said she believes the improvements she can make in practice in the near future will be crucial.

“I think I can work on getting out faster at the start of the race,” Davies said. “Mentally training myself is the most important at this point.”

On a somewhat tragicomic note, a miscommunication led to some athletes being caught off guard at the start of the race.

“The gun went off, and I was still taking off my sweats,” Hunt said. “I saw the race take off without me. I tried to catch up as fast as I could, and got a big adrenaline rush.”

Cross-country is full of disparities, as every school’s home course is different. This is a drastic departure from football or basketball, where the game takes place within a standardized area.

Denison University, which hosts the NCAC Championship on Nov. 1, is notorious for its abnormally hilly home course, which adds an extra dimension of difficulty to racing there. Coupled with the caprices of Ohio weather, the Kenyon squads could be in for a difficult race.

However, the severe conditions the team has endured the past two weekends may be highly effective preparation for adverse conditions, should they arise at the NCAC meet. In the meantime, Gomez will do his best to make sure his athletes are prepared mentally and physically, primarily by scheduling uphill runs and reducing the team’s overall workload in practice.

     “[Training] is kind of a self-fulfilling thing,” Naughton said. “If you think you can do it in practices, you can do it in meets. You just need to wrap your head around it mentally.”

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