November 3, 2009

Men, women slog to disappointing UAA results

If it was not enough to race seven teams of talented runners from one of the nation’s best conferences, cross country also had to battle a muddy course at the UAA championships held at Case this weekend.

The combination of factors contributed to a performance that was disappointing for Chicago’s runners: The women finished sixth of eight, and the men finished seventh.

On the men’s side, Chicago’s top performer was third-year Nick Nunez, who circled the eight kilometer course in 27:25, good for 29th place out of 76 runners. The women were paced by second-year Rachel Ohman, who recorded a time of 24:19 over six kilometers. Ohman was 13th out of the 78 women competing, and earned All-UAA Second Team honors.

Wash U’s Taryn Surtees’s was the overall women’s winner with a time of 22:42. NYU’s Zach Maher won the men’s race in 26:06. Surtees’ effort helped Wash U capture first place in the women’s team competition, while Maher’s did the same for NYU in the men’s team race.

The soggy course didn’t make for ideal race conditions, but third-year Arthur Baptist downplayed the importance of the weather.

“I think the course was like nothing we’d ever seen before, as it was really muddy with ankle-deep mud and puddles in some parts, but it shouldn’t be an excuse, as everyone had to run it,” he said.

First-year Bill Whitmore pointed to the quality and depth of the other teams as Chicago’s biggest obstacle.

“The guys’ team ran with the leaders at the start, but could not rise to the challenge of sticking with the other elite teams like NYU and Emory. We just did not have enough support up front to make a strong push during the second half of the race,” he said.

On the women’s half, Chicago was hampered by several key injuries. Third-year Liz Lawton, one of the Maroons’ top runners, missed out with a calf injury. Second-year Jane Thomason was also unable to participate, and Julia Sizek was still recovering from an injury and may not have been at full strength.

But the Maroons felt they had run well and were disappointed when they saw the results.

“When [head coach Chris Hall] came over and announced to us that we had placed sixth, it was as though all the life of our team had been sucked away,” third-year Molly Peverada said. “The pack of girls I ran with, including Jane Simpson, Lizzie Bright, Erin Cary, and Julia Sizek, really felt that we had run phenomenally together, so we were extremely down after discovering our low placing.”

With the November 14 Midwest Regional quickly approaching, there’s not too much time for Chicago’s runners to dwell on the results.

“We’re licking our wounds a little bit, but we’ve got the regional meet coming up, and that’s all that matters right now,” Nunez said.