October 29, 2002

Cross country struggles at UW-Parkside meet, prepares for UAA championships

The men's cross country team did not run especially well at the UW-Parkside meet. They placed a dismal sixth, amassing a point total of 145, and finishing not only behind their regional rival UW-Platteville, who won the meet with 85 points, but also regional lessers DePauw University and UW-Whitewater, who scored 129 and 133 points respectively.

Head coach Chris Hall said of the men's poor showing, "It was a little disappointing to look at the results after the meet and find us behind Platteville, DePauw, and Whitewater and only 34 points in front of Elmhurst. I'm not sure what we could have done to beat Platteville but certainly feel that we should have beaten Whitewater and DePauw." He added, "… if we compete like this at UAAs we will not win and we may end up finishing as far back as fourth" An ominous thought with the University Athletic Association championships this Saturday in New York, New York.

Not that all of the men had poor races last weekend. Team leader and favorite to win the upcoming Midwest Regional meet, third-year Tom Haxton finished second to the runner that will challenge him the most in that meet, Ryan Kleimenhagen of UW-Platteville. Haxton had opened up a large lead on Kleimenhagen and the rest of the field only to see it evaporate in the last half-mile as Kleimenhagen made up more than a ten-second gap to outkick Haxton, finishing two seconds ahead with 25:01 to Haxton's 25:03 over the hilly 8K course.

Third-year Patrick Sullivan also continued his string of impressive races, finishing 11th, and second for the team, with a time of 25:53, and fourth-year Peter Bugg had what was doubtless the race of his collegiate cross country career, finishing in 20th place and third for the team in a time of 26:12.

However, the Maroons' middle pack, which usually finishes alongside Bugg, was nowhere to be found. First-year Pat Hogan and fourth-year Paddy White stopped the bleeding by rounding out Chicago's scoring five, but not before the damage on the team scoreboard had been done. Hogan finished 52nd with a time of 26:56 and White, in his best race of the season, finished in 60th place in 27:06. Your humble, not to mention good-looking, author finished behind White in 63rd with a time of 27:09, and first-year Teage O'Connor rounded out the top seven in 70th place with a time of 27:14.

The Chicago women had a far more impressive showing. They finished a surprising seventh, a performance strong enough to earn them the 23rd position in the Division III national rankings released earlier this week. Bradley University won the meet, scoring 55 points to edge out Northwest College at 58 points. UW-Parkside placed third with 132 points. Chicago finished with 256 points.

Hall was slightly critical of the women's performance, but was pleased with the move into the national rankings. In the team meeting following the meet, Hall said, "As a team there was a couple of things we could have improved. First of all, I think we could have done a better job of previewing the course. Secondly, we definitely got out too conservative. While I think this is better than running overly aggressive, it was apparent we were getting trapped at times behind packs of runners on the trails."

Second-year Erin Steiner again led the team, finishing in 22nd place with a time of 19:00. Third-year Niki Voelkel placed 42nd with a time of 19:24, and fourth-year Clarisse Mesa finished 50th in 19:29. First-years Jessica Winter and Beverly Chang rounded out Chicago's top five, finishing 68th and 73rd, with times of 19:48 and 19:50, respectively.

Both teams will need to be in more of a racing state of mind this weekend at the conference championships in New York, New York (it's a joke, read it again). The men, while still favored to win, will need to be at their best if they hope to beat host New York University, Emory University, and defending champion Washington University. The women's side will need an impressive performance to finish in the top three, as they will face tough competition from Washington University and Brandeis University.