By Alex Pijanowski
The Kenyon cross-country teams traveled into rival territory this past Saturday to compete at the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Championships in Granville, Ohio.
The men’s result was something of a disappointment; with 203 team points, they placed eighth out of 10 teams. The host team, Denison University, finished one spot ahead of Kenyon with 149 points, and Wittenberg University was in ninth with 225 points. In cross-country, like golf, low scores are desirable, as each individual receives a number of points corresponding to his or her order in crossing the finish line.
Nat Fox ’16 was Kenyon’s fastest runner for the third race in a row. He cracked the top 20 with a time of 27:04.0, good enough for 14th place. Sam Lagasse ’16, who dominated in the early part of the season but has struggled lately because of illness, earned 22nd place with a time of 27:29.4. Eric Thornton ’18, running in the first conference championship meet of his career, mustered a 66th-place finish to round out Kenyon’s top three.
The results were not favorable for the women’s team either. The Ladies were seventh in a field of nine, ending up with 183 points. Molly Hunt ’18 ran well, completing the course in a 29th-place time of 25:23.2. Susannah Davies ’18 was not far behind in 32nd place, clocking in at 25:29.1.
One bright spot was Harlee Mollenkopf ’18, who earned a season- and career-best 39th-place finish of 25:52.0. Mollenkopf has consistently been one of the Ladies’ top five runners for most of the season, and was the third Kenyon runner to finish the race. Getting to that contributing role on the team has been trying at times, however.
“At this time last year, I was home sick with mono, and all last semester [during the track season], I barely raced,” Mollenkopf said. “Coming from basically nothing to being a valuable runner on the team is really exciting.”
Mollenkopf believes that being unable to participate in the past fueled her competitive drive. “Valuing racing as a privilege, as something that not everyone can do and as something I really want to do, is what pushes me,” she explained.
Fox acknowledged the team’s performance could have been much better, but he did not feel its showing was due to lack of effort.
“For where we were in the season, I’m not super disappointed with the team,” Fox said. “We all showed a lot of gumption going out there, especially in the tough conditions.”
“It was cold, it was windy; kind of a narrow, twisty-turny course,” he said. “It was really a dogfight out there. I think we held our own, at least, which is something that I’m proud of.”
Even so, both teams will have some major preparation to do if they hope to do well at the NCAA Regional Championships being held at Wilmington, Ohio on Nov. 15. If this does not happen, when the gun goes off at 11 a.m. two Saturdays from now, it may very well be signaling the Lords and Ladies’ last race of the season.