By Colleen Slattery
The weather dropped 20 degrees overnight, and as the University of Dallas men’s and women’s cross country teams boarded the bus in the pre dawn darkness, they shivered, both in anticipation of the race and from the chill wind cutting through their clothes. This past Saturday, the Crusaders raced under iron-gray skies in 60 degree weather at the University of Texas at Arlington’s Gerald Richey Invitational. The meet included a host of teams from Division I to Division III, and the depth of the field and level of competition served to encourage the best possible finishes for the Crusaders.
The women raced first, nervously toeing the line as 8 a.m. approached. The gun went off, and out strode our women Crusaders onto a course that traversed through woods, past a lake and ultimately finished directly after the only hill on the course. Senior and front-runner Clare Myers crushed the short hill and finished the five-kilometer race in a time of 19:37. Junior Ruth Fritz was the next Crusader to cross the finish line in what looked like an effortless race. Fritz completed the course in a time of 20:37, a personal best finish time in her career at UD. Across the board, the women raced exponentially stronger than two weeks ago at the opening meet of the season, some of them sloughing as much as three minutes off of their previous finishing time!
The women placed fourth in their division with 119 points, behind Oklahoma Baptist University (27 points), Texas Wesleyan University (46 points), and Dallas Baptist University (50 points).
The men took to the course after the ladies, confident and strong in a fast-paced, highly stacked pack of runners from across the North Texas area. In only his second cross country meet since his freshman year, junior Ryan McAnany flashed through miles one, two and three, and finished the five-kilometer course in a school record-breaking time of 16:17.
“I honestly had no idea if I was going fast or not until I came around that final turn and saw the clock,” McAnany said. “I felt really great.”
McAnany is far from resting on his laurels and cruising through the rest of the season with a school record under his belt.
“I’m stoked to be the new record holder, and it feels good to bring some honor to the school and to all of Coach Barber’s hard work,” he said. “Hopefully, I can continue to improve and strive for more records in the future!”
The men’s team finished in fourth place overall as well, with a score of 121, trailing behind OBU, Texas Wesleyan and DBU just as the women did.
New head coach Matthew Barber was pleased with the results from this past weekend as his team made impressive improvements.
“Everyone, the men and the women, took a step or two forward from the last meet,” he said excitedly.
The season has barely begun, and already the Crusaders are clocking times that were unheard of last year. What more will the season bring?