Imagine taking an exam without knowing the the topic, format or length.
The Case Western Reserve University cross country teams faced a similar test as they headed to Garret Mountain Reservation in Woodland Park, New Jersey for the 2017 University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships, hosted by New York University on Saturday, Oct. 28.
CWRU was unfamiliar with the course layout and that made the race a challenge. Head Coach Kathy Lanese knew the team was heading into a difficult race because of it.
“We went into [the course] blind … there were a lot of obstacles and hills,” she said. “It was a very challenging race for us.”
First-year runner Dmytro Blundell shares the same sentiments.
“There were 200 meters of a grass hill, then 400 meters of gravel hill [after]. Coach told us to be conservative on the hills,” he said. “It was just a rough course.”
Despite the disadvantage of facing an unknown challenge, the men’s and women’s teams both finished in seventh place out of the eight teams.
Second-year runner Madeline Lindemann had a breakout run, earning 11th place out of 76 runners, with a time of 24:18.2. This was the first time that Lindemann finished first out of all Spartan runners, earning her a spot on the All-UAA Second Team. Fourth-year captain Danielle Kulpins followed behind with a time of 24:49.0, finishing 20th overall.
“Maddy has improved leaps and bounds,” praised Lanese. “Last year [Maddy] was middle of the pack … she’s just on a whole new level of fitness [this year.]”
Fourth-year runner Sam Merriman lead the men’s team with a sixth place finish with a time of 26:25.7. This was his second year earning All-UAA First Team honors. He became the fifth ever Spartan to earn the honor in multiple seasons. Fourth-year runners Aidan DeSanto and Ben Whitman followed right behind at 27:16.8, finishing at the exact same time.
On his performance on the race, Blundell commented, “I should’ve either pushed [my pace] more in the second half [of the race] or the first half…this was not my best time, so I could’ve ran better.”
The Spartans will take a week off before heading to Powell, Ohio for the Great Lakes Region Championships on Nov. 11, their most important meet of the year.