The University of Dallas men’s and women’s cross-country teams came home this weekend satisfied with their first meet of the season. After making the three-hour trip to Abilene, Texas, the Crusaders placed seventh and fifth respectively in the Bill Libby Invitational at McMurry University.
“Considering it was our first race of the season, I think we did well,” senior Matthew Klem said. “There are a lot of new faces on the team, so this meet was good for setting a baseline, as well as for working toward developing a team dynamic and race strategy.”
The men’s team is an especially young team. Four of the eight runners are freshmen, but that did not stop them from making an impact. Freshman John James nabbed 14th place with a time of 16:32, UD’s fastest of the race.
On the women’s side, experienced veterans led the day as sophomore Bridget Kennedy made 13th place with a time of 21:10. She was followed by juniors Angela Moore and Emily Cosgray, and senior team captain Joey Danaher. Of Dallas’ four top finishers, only Cosgray was making her collegiate debut.
“[There were] two things we worked on today,” Head Coach Matt Barber after Friday’s races said. “We grouped the team into smaller units that would be racing together through the first mile and a half [to] two miles, then they could start to string out naturally. [T]he other was approaching the first mile very conservatively; running in this heat is not fun and if we approached the first mile conservatively and ran well with our teammates we were going to finish strong.”
Barber has stated previously that his goal is to get his teams back to last season’s levels, with the men finishing fourth in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC), and the women finishing third. He and his runners view this meet as a good first step toward that goal.
“I’m excited to see the improvements that both myself and the team [as] a whole will make as the season progresses,” Klem said confidently of his expectations.
“I am proud with how the team ran,” Barber said. “There is obvious room for improvement, but they raced this course well. We now have a good baseline going forward to the [Texas Lutheran University (TLU)] meet in a couple of weeks.”
The Crusaders will have a break this coming weekend before hitting the road again on Sept. 17 for the invitational at TLU in Seguin, Texas.