The Wesleyan cross country team completed its fall season on Saturday, Nov. 16 at the New England Division III Championship hosted by the University of Southern Maine. The Wesleyan men finished 13th out of 50 teams with 371 points; the women came in 20th place out of 53 teams with 638 points.

Upon reflection, some runners were unsatisfied with what were decent, albeit unspectacular, results.

“We wanted to be tenth, and hoped that eighth was possible,” said Reid Hawkins ’17. “But that would have needed everyone on top of their game.”

Despite strong individual efforts, the running was rough and the competition rougher.

“My goal [for this last race] was to go out fast and try to hang on to a lead,” said Libby Lazare ’14. “But that didn’t really happen; it was real tough later on, and there were some fast runners.”

Overall, however, Lazare was optimistic about her teammates’ performances.

“As a team, we did well,” Lazare said. “Everyone was pretty pleased; it was our best race so far. And because we’re such a young team, [the race] was great experience for the first-years.”

On the men’s side, the team executed its strategy accurately, but not as effectively as it had hoped.

“If you look at [the finishing times of] our top five [scorers], they were a pretty tight pack,” Hawkins said. “It’s good to have a tight pack, [and] good to have more people up front too.”

Though they stuck together as planned, the men wanted their pack to be farther up in the race than it was when they crossed the finish line.

“We did what we were planning on doing,” said Keith Conway ’16. “Most of us just couldn’t move to where we wanted to be.”

With 371 total competitors running a six-kilometer course, the Wes women’s top five were Lazare, Caroline Elmendorf ’17, Christine Hebner ’17, Molly Schassberger ’17, and Rachel Unger ’15. Lazare was consistently Wesleyan’s top female scorer in all five meets of the season, making no exception of the Regional Div. III Championship by placing 64th overall with a time of 22:51.83.

The men’s scoring five were Conway,  Hawkins, Eric Arsenault ’17, Evan Bieder ’15, and Taylor Titcomb ’16, with 366 total competitors in the eight kilometer race. Titcomb, who finished first of the Cardinal men in 52nd place overall with a 25:57.7 time, was Wesleyan’s top male scorer for the fourth time out of the season’s five races.

Asked to reflect on his season, Conway expressed reserved optimism.

“This year, I ran a lot better than [I did] last year [as a freshman],” Conway said. “I had some good races this season; it wasn’t as great as I was hoping for, but, with a team that’s so young, it was a good season of training [and] transition. Just not a great result [or] season.”

Hawkins echoed this sentiment by describing what he felt to be a slightly disappointing downward trend toward the end of the season.

“We ran as [well as] we wanted or hoped to until the Little Three [Meet],” Hawkins said. “Then we started to not really meet expectations.”

Though the Cards ran hard at their penultimate meet competing in the NESCAC Cross Country Championship hosted by Conn College on Saturday, Nov. 2, Wesleyan did not close the season the way it had hoped. Both Cardinal teams finished 10th in their respective races, with the men scoring 258 points and the women scoring 289 points.

“I would have liked a better season, based on how good we could have been,” Hawkins said. “[The results of this season] make us that much more dedicated to spring training though.”

But not everyone has the opportunity of another season to fight the good fight. Lazare, the only senior on either Wesleyan cross country team, will graduate this May.

“[The end of the cross country season] is a weird feeling,” Lazare said. “There are a lot of mixed feelings. But I mean obviously I’m not done running. I have indoor and outdoor [track] to look forward to, and I’ll run after college regularly.”

And even though she did not place as high as she wanted to in her final race, Lazare can reflect contently on a great four-year run.

“This was definitely the best season I’ve had,” Lazare said. “Looking back on it all, I can be happy with how I did.”

More important to Lazare than the results were the personal connections that developed over the seasons.

“The team is amazing,” Lazare reflected. “It was incredible being able to form such amazing friendships with people that will last so much longer than our time running together.”

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