A season at the bottom was more than long enough for men’s cross country, who improved on 2007’s last-place finish by taking sixth at the UAA Championship this weekend.
“We didn’t run badly—we just didn’t run great,” head coach Chris Hall said. “If you don’t run great in the UAA championships, you feel like you ran badly.”
Leading the Maroons was fourth-year Chris Peverada, whose time of 26:07 gave him 10th place at the meet. Second-year Arthur Baptist finished just two seconds behind him for 11th, sealing two All-UAA spots for Chicago.
“For both of us to make the All-UAA team is very encouraging, and I think it bodes well for the end of the season,” Peverada said. “We both improved 30 to 40 places over our finishes from last year, and in an 80-man race that’s pretty significant.”
Fourth-year David Yu, who missed Chicago’s last race because of an academic scheduling conflict, turned in a strong performance by finishing 32nd with a time of 26:56, and Alex Garbier continued a strong year, taking 42nd place with a time of 27:21. Still, the South Siders missed their goal of finishing in the top four.
“Not just a few individuals, but our entire team needed to show up and have their best day, and we did that in probably about three or four positions, but we needed to do it in a couple more,” Hall said.
While the sixth-place finish didn’t give the Maroons anything to call home about, Hall noted the very strong competition that the UAA has featured this season.
“I really strongly believe that the UAA conference on the men’s side is the best in the country, top to bottom,” Hall said. “I think our guys are a top-20 team nationally, but you need to be a top-10 team nationally in order to make an impact on this conference.”
10th-ranked NYU topped sixth-ranked Carnegie, 13th-ranked Emory, Brandeis, and 12th-ranked Case en route to its third consecutive UAA title. The Violets dominated the stat sheet with six runners finishing in the top 14.
“Besides NYU, who won by a considerable amount and is probably a top-three team in the country, the rest of the teams weren’t spread out by too much, so that gives us encouragement for next year that we can be in the top three teams,” Baptist said.
The men now look ahead to the Midwest Regional November 15, where the nation’s most competitive region will decide who moves on to the NCAA D-III Championship and who goes home. Chicago must finish in the top five to qualify for the national championship, a tall task according to the coach.
“If we were to approach the regional meet with the idea that we were going to extend our season into the NCAAs, I’m not sure if that’s realistic,” Hall said. “A team would have to come back to us: There would have to be at least one team out front that would really have a terrible day.”
Still, he expects many of Chicago’s runners to turn in quality races at regionals, partially because of the larger scale of the meet.
“Instead of dealing with eight teams that are really good, we’ll be in a field of 35 teams and there will still be eight or nine teams that are really good, but there’ll be so many others that are not,” Hall said. “There’s this better comfort level of having 200 athletes instead of 20 athletes behind you.”