On a windy and muddy Friday in Virginia at the annual USCAA championships, the men’s and women’s Cross Country teams came ready to leave it all on the course. The runners of each squad helped their teams improve in the standings from 2016’s result, as well as set some new personal records.
The men’s team ended up scoring 247 points and finishing 7th out of 22 teams in the championships, improving the team’s standing from 11th place in 2016 to 7th place in 2017. The women’s team scored 141 points and finished 5th out of 12 teams in the championships. This helped improve the team’s standing from 7th place in 2016 to 5th place in 2017.
“Well, going into the SCAC championships we had seen all of the schools before and knew where some of the athletes would be competitively,” Head Cross Country/Track & Field Coach Matthew Barber said. “So, we ran a more strategic race as far as targeting certain groups of runners for each athlete on our team to go after. At USCAA, we knew the results of our training from how well we performed at SCAC. We don’t see these USCAA schools during the regular season, so it was imperative for each person to run their best individual race regardless of which jersey was next to them: come out smart, compete in the mid to late miles, and leave everything on the course. For preparation, we reduced their mileage/overall workload, but kept the workouts intense to sharpen the competitive edge while filling the gas tank and freshening their bodies from a season of fatigue. Mentally, leave everything on the course. It’s a privilege to go and run in Virginia representing UD.”
Freshman Joseph Kilmer put up the best time for the Crusaders by finishing with a 28:33 result for 22nd place. Kilmer ended up being the top finisher for Dallas in all seven races during his freshman campaign.
“Coming into the race, I was expecting to be first for UD, but coming into the season I was not thinking of being first for UD in every race,” Kilmer said. “The race was exceptionally tough due to the heavy winds and the rainstorm the night before.”
Joseph Boyle and Elijah Depew followed with times of 29:51 and 29:52, notching 45th and 46th place respectively. Peter DeTar ran in his final cross country meet for UD, posting a 31:17 time. Andrew Maal followed with a 31:36 time, which was an improvement over his previous year’s score by 23 seconds. Maximilian Wilson also improved his time from last year (33:32) by cutting 45 seconds away on Friday. Peter Hedlesky was the fourth freshman that competed in the USCAA Championships.
Freshmen Clare Hernandez and Emma Callahan notched the top performances for the Crusaders on the women’s side with respective times of 26:50 and 26:55, finishing in 20th and 21st place.
“I’ve struggled with a hip injury for the majority of the season,” Callahan said. “So, this last race was only my second race feeling 100% back. All I knew coming into the race was that I wanted to end the season on a good note and run my heart out. My mentality was pretty much just [to] attack this last race of the season and see what happens.”
Alexandra Ralles came in 30th place with a time of 27:44.
Catherine Thelen followed by posting a 27:51 time, and Caroline Schemel finished with a 28:52 time.
The top five Crusaders to place all finished within the top 40 places at the championships.
Thelen claimed 33rd place and Schemel claimed 37th. Mackenzie Tano and Hannah Guth finished with times of 29:34 and 29:58 respectively in their first USCAA Championship.
Six of the seven racers competed in their first USCAA Championship, with the top four Dallas scorers being true freshmen.
“My favorite part by far was the camaraderie among the team,” Callahan said of the season. “It was such a blessing to train with this group of amazing people. Everybody on the team supports each other 100 percent. They made the college adjustment so much easier. It has been especially fruitful to build friendships with the upperclassmen. I know I can always turn to them for words of wisdom and advice.”
When talking about how the runners would improve in the future, Coach Barber said: “Take the same steps returners who have seen success take … (and) get better all year. That doesn’t mean pushing through the hardest workouts of your life during the off-season. It means taking steps daily to get better: eat well, always get your weekly long run in, take the weight room seriously, and, when you’re particularly busy, a thirty minute run can easily make a difference”