Colleen Slattery, Contributing Writer
The United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) National Championship cross country meet was held at Paul Smith’s College in Lake Placid, New York, this past weekend, and the University of Dallas men’s and women’s cross country teams showed that although they may come from hot, flat and dry Irving, they can compete in any type of environment. The race was held on the 1980 Olympic Biathlon course, tucked in a valley beneath the Adirondack Mountains and covered with a layer of snow in most areas.
The air was frosty as the women’s team started out on the 6k course. Despite the cold weather, sophomore Clare Myers was on fire and ran to an impressive 10th place finish overall in a time of 25:37, receiving the title of 2nd Team All-American. Senior Olivia Bach was the next finisher for the team (26:06, 18th), followed by sophomore Danielle Pajak (26:33, 30th), sophomore Colleen Slattery (26:54, 37th), and junior Mary Jones (27:31, 50th), who rounded out the top five. The women’s team finished the meet with 144 points, taking fifth place overall out of 29 women’s teams.
The men raced next on the churned-up snow. The freshmen took the lead, and Ryan McAnany ran a blazing pace to finish the 8k race in a time of 28:28, in eighth place overall. He and fellow freshman Javier Secaira (28:57, 13th) both received the title of 2nd Team All-American. The next finishers on the team were senior Clinton Heyer (31:29, 68th), sophomore Aaron French (31:59, 76th), and freshman Zach Zendt (32:08, 79th). The men placed seventh out of 26 teams with 228 points.
Both teams also celebrated their accomplishments as student-athletes at the national meet. Five UD runners were named to the USCAA All-Academic Team. Slattery and fellow sophomore Sarah Sokora received the honor on the women’s side. French and sophomores Hunter Johnson and Michael Klem represented the men’s team.
This was the first year that the University of Dallas participated in the USCAA Cross Country Championships. As newcomers to the cold and to the championship environment, they definitely left their mark on the course. Despite the biting wind, smiles were upon the faces of the runners as they headed for home. It’s been a wonderful and successful season for our cross country runners. Way to go, guys!