Colleen Slattery, Sports Editor
As the University of Dallas men’s and women’s cross-country teams toed the starting line for the start of the USCAA National Cross Country Championships this past Saturday, wind cut through their uniforms and snow bounced off their faces. This year, the competition was held in Syracuse, N.Y., and the weather was truly northern, with highs in the 40s and snow throughout the morning. The Crusaders competed against approximately 30 teams from around the nation in their second appearance at the national competition. Matt Buchhorn, head coach of both teams, was out to make gains from last year’s performances, with high hopes for his stronger teams.
The women raced first on a six-kilometer course. The terrain would have been smooth, but the snow had left muddy patches throughout the course, making footing very difficult. The course was also peppered with hills, treacherously slick and steep in places.
“This race isn’t about time,” Buchhorn told his athletes before the race. “It’s about racing smart.”
And his athletes complied. Clare Myers fearlessly attacked the course, running it in a time of 25:07 and placing 10th overall, earning a spot on the All-American second team. Meghan Falconer came back from a disappointing finish at the conference meet to finish with a time of 26:30 in 26th place. Anne Kennedy was the next to finish, with a time of 27:02. Danielle Pajak was right on her tail (27:10), and soon after, Colleen Slattery crossed the finish line (27:31), rounding out the team’s top five scorers. The women placed third overall, the best finish in team history.
The men lined up next and took off on an eight-kilometer course. Guido Marasigan led the Crusaders, despite a fall early on, and ran the course in a time of 30:04, claiming 32nd place. The next UD man to cross the finish line was Aaron French, who ran a standout race, finishing the course with a time of 31:29. Senior Nick Hedlesky had an unbelievable finish, passing almost 20 competitors in the last 400 meters of the race with a time of 32:06.
When asked about his feat, Hedlesky grinned and said, “It was my last race; it’s senior year. So I just gave it all I got.”
Kevin Doherty (32:10) and Jack Grubner (32:16) were the fourth and fifth scorers for the Crusaders. The men took seventh place overall in the team competition.
Athletes and coach alike were pleased with the results of the day.
When asked about her accomplishment of claiming two-time All-American second team, Clare Myers was optimistic. “First off, I am fantastically proud of this team. Personally, I’m glad that I raced the way I did today, but I know that I can do better. I want to come back next year and be All-American, first team,” she said.
Buchhorn was similarly optimistic. “We ran better today than any team has raced in UD history. I know that we can come back next fall and do the same and better.” Congratulations, UD cross country, on a successful season!