On Saturday, Lords and Ladies cross-country competed in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) conference preview on Kenyon’s new course, with top Kenyon finishes coming from Sam Lagasse ’16 and Andrea Ludwig ’19. The Lords had two runners in the top 10, but finished seventh as a team, with 140 points, while the Ladies earned a fourth-place finish with a score of 85.
“This meet kind of shows where we stand in the conference,” Head Coach Duane Gomez said. “Some of our top runners still have some summer injuries they’re coming off of, so they’re not running really hard right now.”
The preview was the first major meet of the season for the cross country teams, an introduction to a schedule that culminates with the NCAC conference championship on Oct. 31. The 5K competition included top NCAC schools such as Oberlin and Denison and featured two non-NCAC schools in the University of Mount Union (Alliance, Ohio) and Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
Ludwig led the Ladies with an eighth-place finish at 19:34.6. She was trailed by fellow first year Quinn Harrigan, who finished just under 20 seconds behind Ludwig, earning a 10th-place finish. Both first years led the team on Saturday as well as on Sept. 1, when Harrigan took first and Ludwig second against Ohio Wesleyan University.
“Those two guys are running well,” Gomez said. “I’m very impressed. That’s a really tough field out there.”
The Ladies finished fourth out of seven schools without the help of Harlee Mollenkopf ’17, who was out with an injury. “She’s one of the top distance runners in the conference,” Gomez said. “If she had been where she normally was, she would have finished like top three and that would have put us right through to second place.”
According to Gomez, the Ladies are a few healthy runners away from glory. “I think when they’re all injury-free they could be top 10 in the region,” Gomez said. Until then, however, it’s on Ludwig and Harrigan to lead the way. “I’m just glad I get to help out,” Ludwig said. “It’s exciting for me. I’ve been training really hard all summer.”
For the Lords, Lagasse led the team with a time of 16:12.8, good for a fourth-place finish overall. Lagasse maintained a solid pace with a leading pack composed of teammate Nat Fox ’16 and several Oberlin runners, including eventual first-place finisher Geno Arthur. Lagasse stayed in third for the majority of the race, but was passed by Oberlin’s Grant Sheely with about 1,000 meters to go.
“I think I could have out-kicked him if I had started (the kick) a little earlier,” Lagasse said. Fox finished 10 seconds behind Lagasse and took seventh place. “It definitely helps when you know you have someone right there,” Lagasse said of Fox. Despite this effort, the Lords placed last due to a two-minute gap between Fox and Kenyon’s third scorer, Kyle Rose ’19. Gomez, however, praised Rose’s 45th-place performance. “He’s one of the surprises right now. He’s doing really well, so I’m pretty happy with that.”
This weekend, both teams will compete against 25 other schools at the Otterbein Invitational, one of three more meets left before the NCAC championship.