The Case Western Reserve University men’s and women’s cross country teams both competed at the UAA cross-country championships on Saturday, Oct. 30. The women came out with a 3rd place finish out of the 8 UAA teams. The men’s squad took 7th place.
The men’s team was lead by sophomore Chris Kelly. Kelly’s time of 26:11 for the 8-kilometer course was good for 17th place overall. Following Kelly was senior David Carter, who placed 23rd with a time of 26:22. Seniors Robert Ontko and Tim Smith also finished well, in times of 26:38 and 26:54, respectively, for 33th and 41th place. Junior Ethan Teare rounded out the rest of the Spartan scorers with a 44th place finish in a time of 26:59.
On the women’s side, senior Justine Jeroski captured All-UAA status with a 5th place finish. Jeroski finished the 6-kilometer course in 22:13. Senior Bettina Kaphingst and junior Natalia Cabrera followed right next to each other in the finish. Kaphingst placed 15th with a time of 22:42 and Cabrera finished 16th with a time of 22:43. Senior Cindy Spahn and freshman Brooke Simpson closed up the scoring with 28th and 32th finishes respectively.
This year New York University hosted the UAA Championship race. The runners assembled Saturday morning at the prestigious Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. The competitors could not have asked for nicer weather. The sun was out, the temperature was cool, and the breeze swept along the open field near the start line.
The men’s race was the first race of the day. Despite the talented competition, the race went out slightly slow. The lead pack, containing several potential All-Americans, did not seem aggressive at all. That all changed after senior Dan Addis of Carnegie Mellon decided to pick up the pace and take the lead about 2 miles into the race.
The runners then proceeded to the “back loop”, a notoriously hilly and difficult section of the course. Kelly and Carter were among those in the pack chasing Addis. After the back loop, Addis gave into the hills and began to fade. The chase pack, now consisting of mostly Washington University and NYU runners, quickly caught Addis and began the long downhill sprint to the finish line. Junior Michael Burnstein from Wash U was the first to cross the line in a time of 25:40. Wash U ended up edging out NYU in the team score, defeating the 4-time defending champion 42-51.
The rest of the UAA played out closely behind as CMU took third with 75 points, Brandeis in fourth with 92, and Rochester in fifth with 113. Chicago beat the Spartans by 23 points as they finished with 158 and Emory brought up the rear with 256 points.
The start of the women’s race followed quickly after. Unlike the men’s heat, t women came of the line very fast. Soon after the start, the lead pack of Liz Lawton from University of Chicago, Grayce Selig from Brandeis, and Jeroski broke away and charged across the course.
The runners circled around a flat field, and then headed into the hilly wooded section of the course. Lawton kept pushing the pace, and Jeroski and Selig held on. Maeve Evans of NYU began to surge and caught the lead pack. Jeroski then fell behind and held position between the leader pack and the rest of the race.
The race continued through the back loop. A large pack of WashU harriers behind Jeroski began to close the distance. By the time they left the back hills and headed downhill to the finish, they were hot on Jeroski’s heels. Behind the WashU pack, Kaphingst and Cabrera began to surge. They ended up finishing in good position, but out of reach of Wash U’s top runners. Lawton won the race in a time of 21:16. In the end, Wash U edged out U Chicago 48-61. The championship was WashU’s second consecutive UAA title.
Behind the Spartans, NYU and Emory battled it out for fourth and fifth as the Violet bested the Eagles 102-105. Rounding out the pack were Brandeis, Carnegie Mellon, and Rochester who finished with 140, 158, and 221 points, respectively.
The Spartans return to action on Saturday, Nov. 13 at the NCAA DIII Great Lakes Regional Championships hosted by Hope College in Holland, Michigan. This will be a pivotal race for both the men and women’s squads. The top two teams at the regional meet get automatic bids to the national championship. The rest of the teams that finish in the top five get considered for at-large bids. Both Spartan teams must finish high to qualify for nationals. Right now, both the men and women teams sit on the edge of qualifying, with both squads ranked fourth in the region.
Both teams will be focusing on their regional rivals in the coming weeks to prepare for the race.
“Albion College and Wabash College are second and third on the men’s side. We are definitely focusing on those runners.” says sophomore Chris Kelly.
Hope College and Ohio Northern University are ranked 2nd and 3rd respectively on the women’s side. Powerhouse Calvin College is ranked No. 1 for both the men’s and the women’s and is the clear favorite for an automatic bid to nationals.