As they traveled to Williamstown last weekend, the Cardinals knew that they would have their hands full for their Little Three showdown against Williams and Amherst. Last week, the Williams men were ranked fourth in the nation and the women eighth, while Amherst’s teams were both listed as the 22nd best squads in Division III. With this in mind, Wesleyan entered the race with a purpose, and the entire team ran with tremendous heart. The final score, however, read Ephs 19, Lord Jeffs 45, and Cardinals 68. The women fared similarly, as the final scores of their meet were 19, 43 and 83.
“We all ran hard, but it didn’t work out,” Keith Conway ’16 said.
Conway, along with Reid Hawkins ’17, did not race in Williamstown, which meant the Cardinals came into the meet missing two of their quality racers. Despite this, the Cardinals were still able to place two of their runners in the top ten of this 8k race; Evan Bieder ’15 (26:09) finished fifth out of 54 runners, while Taylor Titcomb ’16 (26:35) finished ninth.
“Some of our guys did well, which was a good thing to see,” Conway added. “Taylor ran an extremely gutsy race, which got us pretty pumped up. It’s always good to come out of these things with a positive spin.”
The rest of the Cardinal’s scoring five read Tate Knight ’18 (24th, 27:48), Eric Arsenault ’17 (25th, 27:50) and Graham Brown ’18 (39th, 28:47).
“I think that it was a learning experience for everyone,” Paul Brauchle ’17 said. “Hey, man, we’ll get it next time when everyone’s healthy.”
Saturday’s win marked the 27th straight Little Three title for the men of Williams, who are now ranked third in the nation. On the women’s side, the Ephs won their seventh straight and are ranked seventh in the Division III standings. Regardless of the Ephs’ large victory in the 5k race, the Cardinals also got some solid efforts from their top runners with Caroline Elmendorf ’17 (25th, 20:22), Eliana Zimmerman ’17 (32nd, 20:46), Joie Akerson ’17 (35th, 20:58), Morgan Findley ’18 (36th, 21:05), and Juli Riggs ’17 (45th, 22:04). In particular, Elmendorf was only a minute removed from being among the top ten runners.
Despite a number of setbacks, the women’s cross country runners were able to turn in an admirable performance.
“At the Little Three meet, I was proud of my teammates’ mental focus throughout the race,” Elmendorf wrote in an email to The Argus. “Most people on the team had many midterms during the week leading up to the race and there was a cold spreading around campus, and so many of us were sick and tired before the race. However, the people who were able to race showed mental strength during the race and fought to the finish despite starting in a weakened state.”
While both teams have dealt with their fair share of challenges up to this point in the season, this Saturday brings the biggest one thus far: the NESCAC championship race at Middlebury. The defeat at Williams has become motivation for the Cardinals to give it their all for NESCACs, and they hope to make some noise as the championship season gets well underway.
“For the NESCAC championships this weekend, I have high hopes for the team,” Elmendorf wrote. “First of all, we hope to have three more girls finish the race this weekend than at Little Threes, because we have people returning from injury and sickness. Also, we have been reducing our mileage in the last couple of weeks so the team is starting to feel stronger and better rested at this point. We have a team goal to finish in a better place than last year, when we came in tenth.”
Akerson added that staying in high spirits will be instrumental to the Cardinals’ success in the later stages of the fall season.
“Our season is long, and it might be starting to take its toll on our bodies but not our spirits!” Akerson wrote in an email to The Argus. “Hopefully the two weeks between Little Threes and NESCACs will be enough time to come back from all that and get revved up for the upcoming championship meets.”