After dominating their first bout of competition at the Wesleyan Invitational two weeks ago, Wes cross-country was tasked with journeying all the way down to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., where they faced many top teams in the massive Paul Short Run. Despite a difficult field, the Cardinals were able to make their mark; the men improved their overall finish from 30th to 14th this year in the Brown division while the women came in 9th out of 35 in the White division. The highest individual placer was Caroline Elmendorf ’17, who ran a 22:35.47 to place sixth, shaving 3:17 off her time from the 8k course last year.
“Going into the race, my personal goals were to set a new personal best and to finish near the front of the race, both of which I was able to do,” Elmendorf said. “As a team, we wanted to have a small gap between our runners, and we managed to have our second through seventh runners finish within a minute and a half of each other.”
Following Elmendorf to the tape was Rachel Unger ’15 (23:57.49), who also improved on her previous time by 1:14. Subsequent finishers included Morgan Findley ’18 (24:01, 49th), Joie Akerson ’17 (24:30, 71st) and Eliana Zimmerman ’17 (24:42, 83rd).
“I was impressed with my teammates because many of them also set new personal records,” Elmendorf added. “But we’re still looking forward to putting in a few more solid weeks of training before the important meets at the end of the season.”
While the women found great success at the Paul Short, the men weren’t slacking either. Evan Bieder ’15 (25:16.14) and Taylor Titcomb ’16 (25:19.53) finished within four seconds of each other, placing 11th and 14th, respectively.
“My goals for the race were to run under 25:20 and come in the top 20 in the race,” Titcomb said. “So I was definitely happy with 25:19 and 14th.”
The rest of the Cardinals’ scoring five included Keith Conway ’16 (53rd, 25:59), Will Dudek ’17 (143rd, 26:49) and Paul Brauchle ’17 (160th, 26:59), who all shaved time off from their last Paul Short; Conway improved his time by 1:03, Dudek clipped 2:55 off, and Brauchle was 1:23 faster.
“I’m happy that I was able to improve,” Conway said. “I think it was the blueberry muffins at the hotel. They were great, like the ones my mom makes.”
Despite all this success, Titcomb still thinks there is room for improvement among Wesleyan’s runners.
“We were hoping to do a little better as a team, but Keith and Eric Arsenault ’17 were both coming off some recent injuries that [affected their races],” Titcomb said. “[Overall] though, we are definitely capable of qualifying for nationals once we get the team healthy again.”
Competition season isn’t letting up anytime soon: the Cardinals move on to face Williams and Amherst at the annual Little Three meet on October 18, hosted by the Ephs. There, the Cardinal runners hope to truly be able to reap the benefits of their hard work as they focus on nabbing a Little Three title.