This past weekend, the men and women of the University of Dallas’ Cross Country teams participated in the Gerald Richey Invitational, just under 30 minutes away in Grand Prairie, Texas. The race featured many big name teams, both from the Division I and Division IIlevels, including Baylor University, Southern Methodist University, and the University of Texas at Arlington.
The women performed well, particularly senior Emma Polefko, who was able to beat her own personal record in the 5000 meter race. When asked how she was able to improve her 5K time, Polefko was quick to defer the praise elsewhere. “Flat course, fast race, good attitude and incredible teammates by my side,” Polefko said. “A group of us ran the first mile in a pack which allowed for all of us to do as well as we did.”
Freshman Bridget Kennedy made a great debut for her athletic career this weekend, earning a time of 20:09.1 and finishing in 22nd place in the women’s division.
“The team did really well overall,” Kennedy said. “It was definitely a fast race since we were running against a lot [of] DI schools, but I think that helped us in the end. We were pushed to keep up with the faster pace, so our times were probably faster overall.”
Kennedy had never participated in a 5K meet before Saturday, but represents a bright future for the women’s team, as she was the first Crusader to cross the line.
Although it is still early in the year, Polefko is looking forward to the rest of her senior season.
“Each of us saw an improvement this weekend, and I know we will continue to get better,” Polefko said. “I’m excited to see how we compete against other teams in our conference.”
Coach Matthew Barber was pleased with how the meet went, especially considering the level of competition.
“I was happy with everyone’s performances,” Barber said. “It was an early meet so it was more about getting used to racing again.”
Overall, the men’s team did not do as well as they had hoped, although this was not entirely unexpected, as many of the men had not been running in preparation for this race due to injuries or illnesses.
Despite these obstacles, senior Javier Secaira was optimistic in regard to the race.
“Everyone raced well, the girls had a few personal records and [senior] Jack [Grubner] gave me a run for my money,” Secaira said. “It gives us a good base to build off of as we go into our first 8K next week in Boston.”
The meet this weekend in Boston represents a challenge which both the men and women seem eager to face. Both teams have already demonstrated significant improvements over the past few weeks, and look to build upon that progress as they travel northeast.
“We’re only getting better week over week,” Barber said. “Definitely looking forward to Boston this weekend.”