It was 90 degrees in Irving, Texas on Thursday, Oct. 2. The University of Dallas men’s and women’s cross country teams sweated in the predawn dark during their early morning workout, and the sun was hot when it did rise. By the next day, the Crusaders were in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, jogging the course for their prospective races the next day in 45 degree weather. Luckily, none of them were intimidated by the cold.
The men’s and women’s cross country teams competed at the Wisconsin Lutheran College Warrior Invitational in West Allis, Wis. on Saturday, Oct. 4. They ran in front of more fans than perhaps any other meet, as three of the 14 runners who competed for UD hail from the Dairy State. A few others have family in the general area, and it was an amazing treat for our runners to hear familiar voices in the crowd, cheering them on to victory in the chill autumn air. The trees were touched with scarlet and russet, and the course wound its way through woods, awe-inspiring and silent but for the sound of runners’ feet.
The men took to the course first, racing an 8K through the park. If one thing can be said of the cross country teams, it is that they excel in adversity. Despite the muscle-cramping cold, the men ended up taking ninth place out of 16 teams. Junior Ryan McAnany proved his versatility in many different conditions by placing 10th overall in the race with a time of 27:56. The junior class runs the men’s cross country team, and along with McAnany, fellow juniors Javier Secaira (29:02), Jack Grubner (30:25) and Zach Zendt (31:29), were four of the top five Crusaders to finish. Zendt gained a personal record during the race.
“That was a great course! I really like it here,” the Texan commented proudly, smiling after his finish. Senior Aaron French enjoyed the course as well, as Wisconsin is his home state. He finished the course in a time of 32:22.
The women, fired up after chasing the men around during their race, took to the starting line excitedly. They even went so far as to chant, “It’s not cold enough! It’s not cold enough!” as they danced nervously on the start line, garnering some strange looks from the teams around them. Junior Ruth Fritz had a breakthrough week in the cold of Wisconsin. Typically anywhere from the second to fifth runner on the team, the junior challenged senior Clare Myers, the as yet undisputed No. 1 runner for the team, on Saturday and ended up finishing the 6K course just four seconds behind Myers in a time of 24:55.
When asked what clicked this weekend, Fritz revealed that she has been recovering from a knee injury for the past few years, and now, she is finally back to a place where she can really race.
“I tore my ACL and my meniscus senior year of high school, and I had to get reconstructive surgery,” Fritz said. “This past weekend, I finally felt like I could run again. From the moment we got on the bus to the airport for this weekend, I was telling myself that this was going to be the weekend to impress. I loved the race. The course was beautiful, and I just got into a good rhythm.”
Fritz also attributes her improvement to the team.
“These people, once you get to know them, are wonderful,” she said.”They have…I don’t know how to describe it. There is just a sweet aroma to racing and training with this team. I really feel that having such a supportive team has helped me get so much better.”
The women’s team placed third overall out of a field of 14 teams. As the only team not from the Midwest, the Crusaders earned the distinction of traveling the furthest in the history of the Warrior Invitational to compete in the meet. At the end of the meet, as the announcer told the crowd at the awards ceremony where the team was from, the people around the Crusaders stared in amazement.
The men’s and women’s cross country teams aim to generate more amazement here in the South in the future, so stay tuned.