XC runners claim that intangibles will help them win.

One of the unique aspects of any college sport is the turnaround from one year to the next as senior-heavy teams face the imminent truth of graduation while others struggle with transfers, injuries, and the like. However, these factors aren’t an excuse when you didn’t have any seniors to begin with, as is the case with the men’s cross-country team.

“We’re losing no one going into this year,” Keith Conway ’16 said. “So naturally, expectations are a little higher.”

The 2014 squad enters the year keeping the entire roster from a 2013 team that placed 13th in New England. As an upperclassman, Conway will be charged with handling some leadership duties, as well as capitalizing on the training he’s done since the conclusion of last fall. Conway’s indoor track times of 8:55.60 in the 3000m and 15:22.98 in the 5000m bode well for the upcoming season, and his teammates show great promise as well.

“We’ve got a top group of guys who could contend and make nationals,” Conway noted. “We’ve got our eyes on that final meet in Mason, Ohio.”

Despite an unchanged roster, the boys are confident that they have improved going into their first meet, the Wesleyan Invitational on Friday.

Keeping in line with last year, the youth of the Cardinal runners will be an ongoing trend throughout the season. Will Dudek ’17 (1:59.23 in the 800m; 4:06.52 in the1500m) and Eric Arsenault ’17 will likely be asked to fill top spots in the lineup, and Reid Hawkins ’17 will be tasked with competing while coming off a double stress fracture in his left femur that he suffered over the off-season.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself [while I’ve been injured],” Hawkins said. “It’s given me plenty of time to think about how I define myself as a person. I’m very much more emotionally mature than I was last year.”

The brunt of the leadership will come from Evan Bieder ’15, (4:19.47 in the mile, 8:51.80 in the 3000m and 15:10.89 in the 5000m), and Taylor Titcomb ’16 (15:00.25 in the 5000m), who look to be the top runners for Wesleyan this fall. But while the outlook for cross-country looks positive, that’s only half the equation.

“We’re much closer with the girls’ team this year,” Hawkins added. “Hopefully, we can work together to reach our goals and develop as better runners.”

The women weren’t as fortunate this year in terms of returning members, as Libby Lazare ’14 and Karley Dutra ’14 have graduated. Lazare was the top point-scorer for the Cardinals throughout the 2013 season.

However, there is a great deal of promise to be found on the ladies’ team. Caroline Elmendorf ’17 impressed during the track season, running 18:24.51 in the 5000m and 4:57.79 in the 1500m, while Molly Schassberger ’17 ran 18:43.29 in the 5k and 38:35.12 in the 10k; both Schassberger and Elmendorf were part of the scoring five in each meet from 2013.

Adding to the depth is Christine Hebner ’17 (4:58.59 in the 1500m) and Eliana Zimmerman ’17 (19:10.72 in the 5000m) who will also vie for success and growth during the year, as the women’s team looks forward to a solid year of running.

First-year runners Sylwia Lipior, Christina Vyzas, and Morgan Findley will also try to move up into point-scoring contention this season.

After a successful alumni scrimmage race last weekend, the Cards will kick their season off at home with the Wesleyan Invitational on Friday, Sept. 19. Come by the track to watch the runners make some noise as they work toward the upcoming Little Three, NESCAC and New England meets.

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