Last Friday, the cross-country team raced Mitchell College in the annual Wesleyan Invitational, looking to get the season off to a good start. Unfortunately for the Mariners, the Cardinals weren’t the most hospitable hosts, leaving no room for Mitchell on the podium. Both the men and the women were able to sweep their respective races, displaying strong determination at the onset of their season.
For the women, Caroline Elmendorf ’17 managed to snag the top spot, posting a victory margin of 42 seconds as she cruised to a time of 18:58.79 in the three mile course. Following in the top five came Christina Hebner ’17 (19:40.38), Rachel Unger ’15 (19:46.62), Morgan Findley ’18 (19:54.49), and Joie Akerson ’17 (20:02.60).
“The WesInvite is our last small meet,” Akerson said. “Every race for the rest of the season will be a lot more competitive, so it kind of gives us an idea of where we might sit going into those bigger meets.”
Amidst the success of the Cardinal runners, enthusiasm is beginning to trickle into the locker room as many runners are finally seeing their hard work pay off.
“For the most part, I think everyone was pumped with how we did,” Akerson said. “Obviously, a Wes sweep on both the boys and girls side is nice, but mostly it was just exciting to see everybody’s hard work from the summer come to fruition for the first time, and to see how much we’ve already improved as a team from last year. We have Rachel back, our only senior who spent the last semester in Israel, and we have really solid leaders in Caroline and Molly [Schassberger ’17].”
Unger’s semester abroad didn’t seem to hurt her speed too much; in fact, she ran a full 22 seconds faster than her time last year, while Elmendorf was able to shave 50 seconds off her previous time.
“Our [first-year] class is really promising,” Akerson said. “We’re still such a young team that even we don’t really know what we’re capable of. [The Wesleyan Invite] was a great start to the season, and going into Paul Short, I’d say we’re all pretty ready for a chance to prove ourselves against a tougher field.”
The men had no shortage of success either, leading the scoring five as well. Evan Bieder ’15, Taylor Titcomb ’16, Keith Conway ’16 and Eric Arsenault ’17 finished in the top four in that order, all within a 14-second margin. Bieder finished with a time of 20:57.33, but Titcomb finished only half a second after him as they both averaged under 5:15 per mile. Conway clocked in at 21:06.54, with Arsenault only seconds behind him at 21:11.19.
“[The Wesleyan Invite] went really well,” Conway said. “People are really starting to step up.”
Conway, Titcomb, and Arsenault all improved on their times from last year, as the former two shaved 50 seconds off while Arsenault nipped 20 seconds from his time.
Coming up, the Cards will have to journey to Lehigh on Saturday for the Paul Short Run. Oct. 4th will see Wesleyan test themselves against 40 or more squads from all three NCAA divisions, giving the Cardinals a chance to really see how far their hard work can take them.