Cross country’s home course advantage

Erin Begle, Contributing Writer

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Kennedy finishes strong to lead the Women's Cross Country team to their season best second place finish. University of Dallas photo.

The unusually crisp air was not the only difference that University of Dallas students noticed when they awoke on Saturday morning. The course on which the Cross Country meet was to be held had already been marked. Little orange flags designated the track that runners would be dominating and pedestrians would hope to avoid. The stage was set for runners to compete through the course in the season’s only home race for the University of Dallas.

In the last race before the Conference Championship, the women’s team placed second with a score of 53 — their best score all season. Freshman Bridget Kennedy completed her 5K race with a time of 19:59, making this home race her personal best and her third personal best 5K in a row.

“It was really unexpected, because as I was running, my legs were really tired and I thought it was going to add like thirty seconds to my time, honestly,” said Kennedy. “When I saw the timer I thought, ‘There’s no way. There’s no way that that’s the time right now.’ ”

Kennedy was not the only UD athlete to beat her record this weekend. Four other runners for the women’s team surpassed their own records, as did four men. Freshman Caroline Schemel, junior Joey Danaher, and seniors Ruth Fritz and Emma Polefko all beat their personal records and placed in the top 20 out of the 49 participants. These improvements were vital contributions to the team’s second-place finish.

When asked about the upcoming Conference Championship, Fritz focused on the role of teamwork in ensuring the group’s success.

“You have to make sure your top five runners are above their top five runners,” said Fritz. “So it’s really going to be about making sure that everybody’s ready to give their best and to help encourage each other. Really, it means being aware that you are running with a group and not just by yourself, and being willing to do your best for the group.”

The men’s team took sixth place this weekend, led by senior Ryan McAnany, who ranked 5th in individual standings after finishing the 5K in 16:39. Seniors Javier Secaira and Jack Grubner also finished their last home races with personal bests, 17:12 and 17:43 respectively.

Both teams will take another two-week break before they compete again on Oct. 31 in McKinney, Texas in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Championships.

Heading into what will be the last SCAC Championships for the seniors, both teams are planning to use the next two weeks to continue to build and work together.

“For the team, it means getting even more dedicated to the times we do have together as a team,” Fritz said. “Because we really need to make sure that we are ready to run as a team. That’s going to be the most important part of Conference.”

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