This fall season, the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams had an unpredictable start but spent the season building strength and team dynamics after losing a strong senior class from the 2014 season.
“I’m just really very proud of the way our team came together throughout the season,” senior Ryan McAnany said. “I think we went through a lot of adversity. We had a lot of injuries, a lot of sickness, but we really pulled together and kept our spirits up.”
After these injuries and sicknesses took their toll upon the athletes, both teams faced their third meet of the season in Boston, Mass.
“That was the moment we realized we could be better … we were in better shape than we thought we were,” senior Javier Secaira said. “We were able to be competitive against good teams.”
McAnany also addressed the Boston meet as a significant turning point for the team.
“It really made our team come together,” McAnany said. “We became closer and more friendly. We also just learned to push each other, and kind of became a team.”
Both of these senior men led the team in different ways, but they were not without their female counterparts.
“I’m especially proud of the girl’s team for really how much success they had,” McAnany said. “They really proved their merit and I’m especially proud of senior Emma Polefko for being a good captain and pulling the girls together and obviously senior Ruth Fritz. She showed a lot of heart throughout the season.”
Both the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) and the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Championships took the team by surprise. The SCAC Championship meet also fell short of the ideal situation. The course was a mud pit the day of the race.
“It was not what we expected,” Secaira said. “It was just a mud bath — we were all … laughing at the end.”
The early November weather in Lakeland, Fla., where the USCAA Championship was held, provided for the season’s hottest meet. Despite the abysmal heat, the team took the opportunity to bond over shared difficulties.
“Suffering through Tampa Bay was a great way to end the season,” McAnany said.
This year, the underclassmen worked with the upperclassmen to create a new base from which the program will hopefully continue to grow. The young freshmen who performed well this year will be left with a tremendous responsibility.
“The 2015 team had something really special going for us,” Polefko said. “We really understood what it meant to be a team, and be a team at UD … arguably it was my favorite season.”
“I’m proud of this team,” Head Coach Matthew Barber said. “The growth and camaraderie of everyone this fall is why I’m coaching.”