October 22, 2013

South Siders ready for UAAs after strong performance in WI

The men’s and women’s cross-country teams continued along the path of success this past weekend as they took sixth and second, respectively, at the Brooks Invitational in Oshkosh, WI.

In a highly competitive field, the men totaled 230 points and managed to outrun their ranking and finish higher than expected, losing only to better ranked teams such as North Central (33 points), Wash U (64 points), UW–Eau Claire (133 points), and UW–Oshkosh (152 points) on the D-III level. The No. 17 men did defeat Wabash (235 points), who currently ranks 13th in the country.

Fourth-year Dan Povitsky again led the charge for the men, finishing the 8km course in 25:08. First-year phenom Gareth Jones followed just over 30 seconds behind, with the rest of the pack about another 10 seconds behind him.

The No. 6 women’s team totaled 120 points and also raced well, but ran into a couple of obstacles on the course. They were beaten by Calvin (71 points), who took first at the meet, and escaped defeat by rival Wash U (124 points). However, while the national rankings later this week might reflect the Brooks Invitational results, the final scores are not truly indicative of the Maroons’ strength as a team.

“We needed to close the gap between runners two and five,” said fourth-year Michaela Whitelaw. “However, we had some people cramp up during the race, which hurt us.”

Despite the injuries, the rest of the team continued to perform, which showed in the overall finishes. Second-year Cat Young continued to dominate the field, coming in fourth overall with a time of 21:31. Whitelaw and second-year Karin Gorski finished less than a minute later to steal spots 13 and 18 respectively.

“The team maintained a competitive nature throughout the race,” Whitelaw added. “We ran as a team, and while we didn’t do as well as we would have liked, we know we can accomplish a whole lot more when health is on our side.”

Both squads will now prepare for the upcoming championship season. The Brooks Invitational served as a sort of grand finale to the regular season. It provided a strong lineup for the Maroons to compete against, and let them see the type of runners they will have to face at the conference championship regional qualifiers.

The men know they will have to improve if they want to win a conference title. Wash U looks as strong as ever and the Brooks Invitational threw away any doubt of the Bears’ talent.

The women’s squad looked good, but not great. Even though it defeated Wash U despite injuries, its toughest competition will come in the form of a very strong No. 15 NYU team.

But for now, the Maroons have a full two weeks to rest and prepare for their trip to Pittsburgh.

“We want to use these next couple of weeks to get healthy,” Whitelaw said. “We are going to focus on maintaining our competitive drive and getting better.”

However, do not expect these South Siders to get complacent. They have competed since the middle of August and trained for far longer for these next few weeks.

“I am proud of what we have accomplished so far, and I look forward to the championship season,” Whitelaw said. “We respect the skill of every team we run against, but we expect to win the conference title.”