Crusaders Verso l’alto!

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Photo courtesy of UD Athletics

The University of Dallas cross country Crusaders soared to an elevation of 6,035 feet for the SCAC meet hosted at Colorado College. Despite the high altitude and freezing conditions, the lady crusaders took third overall and the men’s team took seventh. 

Sophomore Anna Wilgenbusch earned first place overall and the SCAC runner of the year title with a 6K time of 22:55. She won by a huge margin: the second place finisher from Colorado College crossed the line 33.3 seconds after her. Her victory marked the first SCAC cross country individual champion title in UD history. This was Wilgenbusch’s seventh consecutive win of the season. Wilgenbusch said she was incredibly proud of the entire team’s performance this weekend.

This conference meet was particularly challenging due to cold weather conditions and high altitude, with the course at even higher altitude than Denver. 

“The altitude and a somewhat hilly course made for the physically toughest 6K in my memory,” said Wilgenbusch. “But being surrounded by mountains and having some competition behind me definitely helped motivate my finish. It was a perfect opportunity to offer up some pain for All Souls’ Day!”

This meet was the last conference competition for three seniors: Mary Korth, John James and Andrew Maal. Conference was particularly meaningful for Maal as the meet was hosted in his home state.

“It was a homecoming in the sense that Colorado is where my passion for running began, said Maal. “Having my family watch and support was a blessing…running is something that will stay with me for quite a long time. Whether that’s racing, coaching, whatever God has planned. I haven’t been burnt out of running. If anything something has re-ignited”

Maal was a captain for the UD men’s cross country team and especially appreciated this leadership role during the season.

“Helping the program transition to a new coach and being a leader. Stepping into those shoes of previous seniors in the past felt great, and I hope I did as good a job as they did when I was an underclassmen,” said Maal.

Korth, senior and a captain for the women’s team, talked about the highlights, challenges and bittersweet feelings this conference meet brought.

“The best part of the Conference trip was spending time with the teammates, said Korth. “The most challenging part was not only the physical affects the altitude had on us, but also the mental. It is a bittersweet feeling to be a senior and have completed my last Conference meet.”

Coach Nick Schniegert watched the payoff from his first season coaching for UD as his team raced in challenging conditions this weekend. 

“The coolest part was how we adjusted well for the altitude. Most of the athletes stuck with the plan and ran conservatively and were successful because of it.”

Additionally, Schneigert explained that the diligence of the whole team during the regular season really paid off at this conference meet. 

“What made my job easier is that everyone showed up for 6am practices … both the men and women wanted it.”

Next up for the cross country crusaders is the USCAA National Championship in Virginia Beach, V.A.. Here’s to the strong finish of a successful season!

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