On Saturday, Oct. 15, both the men’s and women’s cross country teams competed against Williams and Amherst for the title of the Little Three Championship. Hundreds of parents and alumni from all three schools lined the Wes Fuhrman ’05 trails to watch competition between teams that together occupied 4 of the top 15 spots at the Division III National Championship last year. The Little Three crown for both the men and women went to Williams, while Amherst came in second for both races and the Cards came in third. The results of this year’s race mirrored last fall’s results for the Cards, who finished third in both the men’s and women’s divisions. Still, both teams saw improvement from last fall in terms of the times posted by top runners. Overall, 71 runners competed in the men’s race, while 57 competitors ran in the women’s.

The first woman to come in was Emma Zehner of Williams at 18:27.80. Meanwhile, the first Cards to cross the finish line were seniors Caroline Elmendorf and Molly Schassberger in 11th and 12th, respectively, with times of 19:06.40 and 19:11.70. Next came Julia Mitchell ’19 in 17th with a time of 19:20.10 and Rhoen Fiutak ’19 in 20th at 19:28.00. Morgan Findley ’18 (19:56.80), Carina Flaherty ’19 (20:07.90), Hannah Gillis ’20 (20:14.40), and Joie Akerson ’17 (20:16.50) finished the race one after the other, scoring 28th through 31st.

Peter Hale of Williams came in first in the men’s race with a time of 25:08.10. First for Wesleyan was Will Dudek ’17 in 4th at 25:32.90, followed by Tate Knight ’18 in 20th at 26:46.20 and Kevin McMorrow ’20 with a time of 27:12.00. Shota Nakamura ’19 crossed the finish line 37th and posted a time of 27:40.90. Rounding up the Cardinal men were William Bajohr ’20 in 40th (27:46.60), Josh Signore ’19 in 43rd (27:56.30), and Conner Sexton ’20 in 44th with a time of 28 minutes flat.

The finish line was packed to the brim with the whooping of parents, coaches, students, and alumni. During the women’s race, excitement peaked with a rush for second place between Katherine Treanor of Amherst, who crossed the line at 18:33.40, and Carmen Bango of Williams who came in at 18:33.90, only half a second behind Treanor. The watches used to time the race do not show a time difference of less than half a second, meaning the time difference between these two competitors may have been much less. A highlight of the men’s race took the form of an all-out, four-way sprint between Cardinal runners Adam Linsky ’20 and Henry Vansant ’18, who came in 54th and 55th place, respectively, and Williams and Amherst runners Jacob Cytrynbaum and Jack Malague, who finished 54th and 56th, respectively. All four runners crossed the finish line in a span of less than three seconds, and Linsky, Malague, and Vansant switched places multiple times within only a few seconds of reaching the finish line.

The men missed several runners on Saturday, including Reid Hawkins ’17, who placed second among Wesleyan runners at both the Wesleyan Invitational and the Paul Short Run. Frank Tucci ’19 and Grant Van Inwegen ’20 also missed Saturday’s race due to injury. This left Wesleyan with particularly few runners, 12 in a field of 71, or 17 percent of the runners in the field.

Among the men, McMorrow and Dudek produced performances that exceeded expectations.

“Captain Will Dudek had a great race, putting lots of pressure on the top guys from Amherst and Williams,” McMorrow said.

On his own race, McMorrow took a more meditative tone.

“Personally, this week is going to be a time of plenty of reflection and focus on what I need to improve on for NESCACs and Regionals,” he said.

However, some members of the Cardinals team believe the Little Three result is not all that the team can deliver.

“This week’s race was not what the boys were looking for, but it helps us dial in on what we need to work on,” McMorrow said.

However, McMorrow added that one disappointing result does not need to be the end of the story.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in the ensuing weeks, including some physical and mental preparation,” McMorrow said.

The Cardinals look ahead to the NESCAC Championship on Saturday, Oct. 29 at Colby in Waterville, Maine, and the NCAA New England Regional Championship at Stanley Park in Westfield, Mass. The runners still plan on competing at Nationals, just as they have all along.

“This week’s performance doesn’t change anything in terms of our team’s goals,” McMorrow said.

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