After a full day of brutal mud and rain in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conferences (SCAC) Championship meet last week, the University of Dallas Cross Country Teams did not think that they would be running in other extreme weather conditions for a while. After traveling to Tampa, Fla. this weekend for the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) Championships, however, they quickly discovered they were wrong.
“It was record-setting temperature for Florida in November … 95 percent humidty,” head coach Matt Barber said.
In the last meet of the season for most of the runners, both Crusader teams performed well. The men’s team placed ninth and the women’s team earned sixth place, competing against schools from all over the country.
“I was really, really proud of all of our seniors,” Barber said. “We had a good group … the two girls and the four guys. And they were just such cornerstones and rocks for me all year.”
One of those seniors was Ryan McAnany, who has led the men’s team all year and was named to the SCAC All-Conference team last weekend. This nomination grants McAnany a berth to compete in the NCAA South/Southeast Regional Championship on Nov. 14, with hopes of continuing on to Nationals.
Unfortunately, this past weekend could have provided much better circumstances for most of these seniors’ final races.
“It was more of a war zone than it was a race,” Barber said. “There were seven emergency vehicles at one point on the course. Despite that, I thought we raced well.”
The heat created a real obstacle for many athletes this weekend, particularly the athletes from schools up north. The winning team, Berea College from Berea, Ky., sent two of their top men’s runners to the hospital after the race.
“It just stinks that the last two meets of the season, when you are peaking fitness-level-wise, to have them be meets where you don’t get an accurate time,” Barber said. “Conference was a mud pit, and USCAA was the hottest meet of the year and everyone was dehydrated because of it.”
The dehydration and unpreparedness for the heat both contributed to the so-called war zone. Overlooking the obstacles presented in the past few races, freshman Caroline Schemel reflected on her own improvement throughout the year.
“My times definitely got better as the season progressed,” Schemel said. “It’s been a great year and I look forward to four years of cross country.”
Bridget Kennedy, another freshman, earned a Second Team All-American title this season, but came up short for the All-Conference title that would have granted her a Regional berth.
“We are really excited going into next year,” Barber said. “I know on both sides we are going to be really young … but that’s kind of exciting because the past two years we have had big classes with no one really underneath them.”
With the likes of Schemel and Kennedy returning next year, Barber has good reason to be excited — the team will be expecting great things in the years to come.