What do açaí berries, activated almonds, free-range eggs, and goji berries have in common? They’re superfoods, specifically ones that cross country team member Kevin McMorrow ’20 likes to eat when training for a tough season.
McMorrow, along with the rest of the Wesleyan cross country team, took a trek to the NESCAC Championships this past weekend on Saturday, Oct. 28. While the men’s team placed in the penultimate position, McMorrow achieved individual success by placing second for the Cards with a time of 26:31.5. Not only did this earn him 49th overall, but it was also over a minute and 20 seconds faster than his time last fall at the same championship. Nevertheless, McMorrow is always focused on the team above his own individual success.
“We run a pretty tight ship at this point in the season,” McMorrow said. “Our top seven are all close in ability and it would be great to see someone shake up the rankings a bit.”
And while the rankings on both the men’s and women’s teams have both fluctuated, the top slot has stayed quite consistent. On Saturday, standout Tate Knight ’18 was the top finisher for the male Cardinals for the fourth time this season. He finished 31st overall with a time of 26:14.1.
Becky Lopez-Anido ’21 has been the first Card over the finish line for the women’s team for the past three meets. On Saturday she placed in the top 20 percent of runners with a time of 23:16.9.
“I had a great experience at the last meet,” Lopez-Anido said.“We had a lot of energy and ran a bit too fast at the beginning of the race but everyone on the team still ended up finishing strong.”
The women’s team finished 7th out of 11 teams, trailing the sixth place finisher by only six points. And while their team came out stronger than the men’s, they also had their fair share of personal successes. Sophomore Sara Pinsonault moved up over 20 spots from her first time at the ’CAC Championships, finishing second for Wesleyan and 38th overall. Despite her individual achievements, Pinsonault recognized the importance of the Cardinal team talent and effort.
“At NESCACs, we went out fast, maybe too fast, which affected the later miles, but we gave what we could that day,” she said. “Other teams close to us in scoring like Amherst and Bowdoin have one person in the very front of the pack, and without that one person, they wouldn’t have a great team. Our team, however, just has a really tight spread where we all come in one after the other. Our scoring five all finished before Bowdoin’s scoring five at NESCACs and the same happened with Amherst at Little Three’s, but both teams won against our squad because of the high placement of their fastest runner.”
Julia Mitchell ’19, who has consistently placed in the top three for the Cardinals, came in third on Saturday and 40th overall. Behind her, Emma Trapani ’21 took 48th place in a time of 23:46.9. Rosie Skovron ’20 finished out the Redbirds’ top five runners at 55th overall. This is the third time Skovron has finished fifth for the team.
On the men’s side, after Knight and McMorrow, sophomores Bill Bajohr and Conner Sexton also gave admirable performances, finishing third and fourth respectively. Bajohr moved up a whopping 50 slots while Sexton finished 1:52.27 faster than last year’s NESCAC Championships. Connor Cobb ’18 was the fifth best runner for the Red and Black, taking 78th overall with a time of 27:10.6.
Both teams will head back to Maine next weekend, Nov. 11, for the New England Regional Championship. As the big races are just over a week away, the runners hope to capitalize on the team’s confidence and energy.
“I think one’s individual success while racing depends on being mentally persistent,” Pinsonault said. “People say that running is 10 percent physical and 90 percent mental, and if you’re having a mental off day that can definitely ruin your race…Going into Regionals, we just have to have a good start and be confident in our abilities, and if we are, we’re going to have a great race.”
“With only 7 of our 16 guys racing at Regionals, it’s important to maintain focus and confidence this next week,” Knight said. “By the time we’re on the line, we need to be on the same page in terms of race strategy and also trust that we’ll all fight for every last spot.”
And Knight is doing all he can to prepare for perhaps his most important race of the season.
“We’ll be doing some quicker workouts to sharpen the legs, as well as decreasing mileage to stay fresh,” Knight said. “There’s not much we can do in the next week to get ‘better,’ so we’ll focus on things under our control, i.e. staying healthy, good sleep, and mental preparation. The hay’s in the barn and now it’s time to burn it down.”
Zoë Kaplan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.