The University of Dallas cross country teams traveled to Kerrville this Saturday, Oct. 27, to compete in the South Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) championship meet. The UD women’s team highlighted the day, as the Crusader squad placed third in their first 6k race of the season.
“Placing third in the SCAC meet was an exhilarating victory women’s cross country,” said freshman runner Anna Wilgenbusch. “The added kilometer was a mental challenge for us because we have grown used to racing a 5k rather than a 6k, but we were able to apply the same determination that we have had throughout this season’s races.”
“I’m very proud [of our team],” said Head Coach Matt Barber. “Just about every athlete ran their ideal race, and if someone didn’t, there was another runner who outperformed even what I had as a goal.”
The SCAC championship was the first time all season that the Crusaders competed against conference opponents Colorado College and Trinity University. However, it was the third time this year that the Dallas raced against its very familiar opponent Texas Lutheran University (TLU).
“[The women’s team] went back and forth this year [with TLU], but we had a very good chance [to beat them] [as] long as we ran our race,” Barber said. “They were in the position to pounce if one of us messed up. With the men’s team the roles were reversed. We knew we had a chance while they were dealing with injuries. We only had to jump at the opportunity.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams beat TLU on Saturday. The men won with the lower score of 162 to TLU’s 164, and the women’s team won 106-110.
“It felt good [beating TLU], for both teams,” Barber said. “TLU was exceptionally close,”
The women’s team was led by Wilgenbusch, who was first among all Division-III athletes at the Saints Invitational on Sept. 22. Wilgenbusch finished 12th at the SCAC championship, with a time of 24:13.597.
“[Anna] had a chance to get as high as about top 7, but this was her first race against Trinity [and] Colorado College,” said Barber. “She went out with Molly McCullough, the champ, the first mile and got worn out early.”
There were other notable performances for the women’s team by sophomore Emma Kate Callahan, who finished second for the team and 19th overall with a time of 25:33.56, and junior Mary Korth, who finished fifth for the team and 30th overall with a time of 27:39.374. Both times were personal records.
“I knew the girls had a chance at third [place], but with our inexperience in some of the freshman, it was really important that Mary and Emma Kate ran big PRs,” Barber said. “They really put us over the top against TLU.”
The men’s team was less fortunate in the conference championship, as they finished 6th out of the 8 teams present.
“The problem was that on the men’s side a couple of other teams ran their best race too, and kept us to 6th,” said Barber.
Sophomore Joseph Kilmer led the men’s team, finishing in 21st place with a time of 27:54.14.
The Crusaders have one final meet this season. They will compete in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) championship in Virginia Beach on Friday, Nov. 9.
“We’re excited for racing at Virginia Beach,” said Wilgenbusch. “In the meantime, we’re still training hard.”
“[The team] is peaking and running their best at the right time of the year,” Barber said. “We have traditionally raced this course at Virginia Beach, so we’re all really looking forward to it.”