Struggling to shine

Cross country teams place in bottom half of strong UAA

Veijay Raj, Web Editor

Despite a strong season up to this point, the cross country team struggled to move up in the conference meet. Last Saturday, Oct. 29, the Spartans competed in the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships in Whitesburg, Georgia and finished in the bottom half. The UAA remains one of the strongest conferences in Division III. With three teams ranked in the men’s top 25 and three in the women’s top 25, the conference presents one of the most challenging meets of the season for the Spartans.

In the women’s six-kilometer race, Washington University in St. Louis was a step ahead of the rest of the competition. The number four ranked team in the nation took four of the top seven finishers to tally just 33 points. Following Washington were the University of Chicago, Emory University, Brandeis University and the University of Rochester. The Case Western Reserve University women finished 42 points behind Rochester to grab sixth place.

Third-year student Danielle Kulpins continued her strong season to lead the Spartans. The Spartan lead runner took 10th place out of the 78 competitors and earned All-UAA honors. Kulpins extended the streak of 12 consecutive seasons of the women earning at least one All-UAA honor.

Kulpins was followed by second-year student Jennifer Hoffmann, who finished just out of the top 30 in 23:18.22. Second-year student Isa Torres-Padin also placed in the top half with a 38th place finish and a time just under 23:30.

Rounding out the top five were first-year student Vanessa Pasadyn and third-year student Rachel Laveson. With no fourth-year students in the top five, the team will look to come back with a stronger and more experienced group for the conference meet next season.

In the men’s race, Washington University tied for first with all runners inside the top 30. CWRU ended up in seventh place, finishing behind Carnegie Mellon University, Brandeis University, New York University, Emory University  and University of Chicago. Despite the second-to-last place finish, the team wasn’t too far off from fifth place Emory, totaling only nine fewer points.

While the Spartans were the seventh best team at the meet, they had the third best runner in third-year student Sam Merriman. He continued his strong campaign with another top-five finish. Merriman finished just five seconds out of first place with a time of 24:49.77.

Fourth-year student Galen Caldwell followed Merriman to finish in the top 20 with a time of 25:22.17. Rounding out the top five were second-year student James De La Cruz, first-year student Luke Robbins and third-year student Aidan DeSanto.

The Spartans will continue their postseason in Michigan Saturday, Nov. 12, at the NCAA Great Lakes Region Championships.