By Colleen Slattery
On Nov. 1 the University of Dallas men and women’s cross country teams traversed a muddy and ankle-twisting course in Boerne, Texas in a challenging field of competitors. They managed to both take third in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC).
“I didn’t have anything to lose; it’s senior year, and it was my last conference race. I ran for the team,” Danielle Pajak said.
The course was a mile-long loop, peppered with only a few gentle ups and downs, and although this would usually be ideal for racing, the ground was damp and sticky. The rust-red clay clung to the racers’ shoes as they dashed around the course, and in some places, it made passing difficult, as their movements were limited by the slick and cumbersome footing.
Despite these challenges, junior Ryan McAnany managed to claim sixth place overall, putting him on first team All-Conference. McAnany ran the 8,000 kilometer course with a calm determination, and he crossed the finish line with a flourish in a time of 28:06. As usual, he was followed by a duo of fellow juniors, Javier Secaira (29:17) and Jack Grubner (30:14) and by sophomore Guido Marasigan (30:43). The men scored 97 points to claim third place, behind the impressive performances of Trinity University (2nd place, 38 points) and Colorado College (1st place, 30 points).
The women took the now-battered course after the men. Seniors Clare Myers and Danielle Pajak dug in and put up some impressive times. Myers, finally back to racing after a two week hiatus due to an Achilles injury, confidently fought through the pain to finish in 11th place overall with a time of 24:46. This performance put her on second team All-Conference. Pajak had a breakout race, finishing in the number two spot for the Crusaders, with a time of 25:40. This is her top finish to date.
“I took it out at a normal pace, but as the race went on, I slowly started to catch up to the others on the team. I just knew that I could keep going that fast, so I did.” Pajak said.
Pajak has made enormous improvements each year since her freshman year racing for the Crusaders, and this seems to be just another step for this burgeoning athlete. Her performance helped push the women to a third place finish in conference with 88 points. Trinity University and Colorado College duked it out for first and second, and Colorado College pulled an upset, knocking the reigning champions from Trinity out of first place by just two points.
The weekend was a success for the Crusaders, and yet Coach Matthew Barber is still looking ahead.
“We achieved my goal of being in the top three for both men and women, so I feel good about that. But I am not quite satisfied. I think that next year, we can and will do even better,” Barber said.
Barber is still looking forward to the Division III Regionals in two weeks.
“My goal is to have the women in the top 10 teams out of the thirty, and I want to men to be in the top 15. I think it is very possible for us to see some impressive personal records,” Coach Barber said.