Cross Country season starts with a bang against Austin College

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Photo courtesy of Hailey Guth

The University of Dallas Cross Country team delivered an impressive first performance at the CROOsader Dual meet on August 31 at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. Both men’s and women’s squads had several standout performances with the ladies beating out the Austin team by a significant margin. 

Sophomore Anna Wilgenbusch dominated the two-mile course, taking first place by 45 seconds. According to UD Athletics, her time of 12:17.7 smashed yet another UD record, this time replacing Elena Yate’s 12:46 set in 2011. 

“This meet really revealed that our women’s team, especially, has a lot to give this season, and I can’t wait to see what each of us can do,” said Wilgenbusch. 

Between Wilgenbusch, junior Emma Callahan (second place), sophomore Sabrina Lucio (fourth place), and sophomore Jordan Ness (fifth place), the women’s team claimed four of the top five spots. 

Teamwork proved instrumental to the runners’ success.

“I thought the men’s pack and women’s pack raced well together,” said Coach Matthew Barber. Callahan, Lucio, and Ness formed a tight group only 34 seconds apart, while a mere 32 seconds separated the men’s squad of Stephen Brennan, Nick Wallisch, Gabe Volpe, and Andrew Maal. Despite their valiant effort, the men were unable to hold off the Austin runners, ending with a 40-19 score. Though the men were unable to claim a victory, freshman Max Lagarde gave a superb college debut, posting a time of 11:04.9 to take second place. 

“Our goal is improvement throughout the year, and [the meet]) showed us where we are in terms of training and where we need to put in more work,” said Lagarde. “I’m excited to see where the season will take us as the team continues to improve. For the moment, I’m just happy to be running with and learning from the more experienced members of the team!”

The combination of the runners’ teamwork and several impressive individual performances made Saturday’s race a very promising start for the rest of the season, according to Barber. 

“The meet went great! First race means there are always things that can be improved upon, but a lot of that is rust from not racing all summer… As far as first meets go which will always include rust, this was a very good one.”

While this auspicious season opener was due in large part to Barber’s leadership, the meet holds particular significance for him and for many of the runners because the beloved coach announced his resignation on July 29. His replacement, Nick Schneigert, took over leadership of the team as of September 5. Barber’s departure made Wilgenbusch’s record-breaking performance all the more significant. 

“For me personally, giving Barber one more school record under his coaching was a goal of mine, and I’m so glad I had that opportunity. I’ve learned so much from Coach Barber over the past year, and he’ll always be an integral part of my running career at UD,” said Wilgenbusch.

Under Schneigert’s leadership, the cross-country team will take on an exciting lineup of meets over the remainder of the season, including several in Dallas. UTD hosts their next match-up on September 14, and UD will host the team’s home meet on October 5.

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