At the NESCAC Cross Country Championships, hosted by Wesleyan on Halloween, the Wesleyan men’s team finished sixth while the women placed ninth. The following weekend’s ECAC championships provided a strong opportunity for the Cardinal men and women to improve on these results.
The ECAC Championships are a time for DIII teams across the east coast to race against teams from various conferences with fresh legs and new faces. Wesleyan sent out numerous underclassmen to Williams College this past weekend to battle against familiar foes from the ’Cac and other teams that the Cards are less acquainted with, such as New York University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Vassar College, Coast Guard Academy, and more.
Not surprisingly, the NESCAC teams dominated the meet. Seven of the top ten finishing teams in the women’s six kilometer (6k) race represented NESCAC schools, with Tufts finishing first, Williams third, Middlebury fourth, Amherst sixth, Bates eighth, Colby ninth, and Connecticut College in tenth. For the men’s eight kilometer (8k), Amherst came in first, followed by Williams second, Middlebury third, Colby fourth, Tufts fifth, Bates seventh, Conn eleventh, and Wesleyan twenty-first.
For the Wes women, Katie Scruggs ’17 impressively finished the 6k in 24:56.50 minutes to place 57th out of 311 runners. Carina Flaherty ’19 completed the 6k in 25:49.04 minutes to earn herself 104th place out of the 311 women.
Flaherty reflected on the second race of her debut season with the Cards.
“ECACs were fine,” she said. “I thought it was fun to run in a really large race since Paul Short is the only other race I ran where there were over 300 women. It was also nice because NESCACs were definitely super competitive and at ECACs I was able to run more in the main group of runners and race a lot of people. I’m sad the season is over because I had a great time getting to know the team but I can’t wait for indoor because I’ve never had an indoor track season and the distances are all different than what I ran in outdoor in high school. It’s kind of like frozen yogurt flavors, where you want to try all of them. Inevitably, some will not be so great, but I am excited.”
For the men, Shota Nakamura ’19 placed 72nd out of 278 runners with a final time of 28:29.21 minutes. Classmate Josh Signore ’19 finished the 8k in 29:10.45 minutes to place 106th. Henry Vansant ’18 followed closely behind Signore, with a completion time of 29:13.12 minutes to come in 108th. Another first-year, Riley Hawkins-Hecock ’19, finished with a time of 29:44.31 minutes to earn himself 138th place. To close out the underclassmen pack of Cardinals, Frank Tucci ’19 finished in 172nd place with a time of 30:39.61. Together, the young men’s team fought for an impressive and well-deserved 21st place out of 40 total teams.
Vansant articulated his love of cross country and his sentiments about the meet as the oldest member of the competing Wes team.
“The ECAC championship was a great chance for many of us to race against runners from all over the Northeast,” he said. “In a race featuring over forty schools from different conferences and regions, we were able to go up against hundreds of runners, which provided some good competition for us. While we did not race as well as we had hoped, we know what to work on during track season. Plus, the experience of racing in the woods with a large pack, passing kids on long hills, and cruising across the finish line definitely beats playing some game on a rectangular field.”
The ECAC Championship gave some well-known Wes runners a breather, allowing the spotlight to shine on some of the up-and-coming Cardinals. Wesleyan will now be put to the test, as this upcoming weekend is pivotal one for the Cardinal runners. They enter this weekend’s NCAA Regional Championship seeking a bid to Nationals, the NCAA DIII Championship in Winneconne, Wisconsin. The Regional Championship will be held at Harkness Park in Waterford, CT, not too far from Middletown. The Cards’ greatest competition will be their regular rivals, as the favorites going into this weekend’s championship are primarily NESCAC teams. Our Wes guys in particular will likely need a high finish to secure their spot at Nationals. The Wes runners hope for some road trip-loving fans and loud cheering sections this weekend in order to get their legs moving just fast enough for a flight over to the Midwest.