November 18, 2014

National championship looms following record-setting weekend

While students across the frozen Chicago campus took to the warmth of the indoors last weekend as sub-30-degree temperatures descended upon the area, the men’s and women’s cross country teams braved the chilly temperatures as they made the trek to Oshkosh, WI this weekend to take part in the NCAA Midwest Regional.

Even though the temperatures would surely scare off even the most adventurous and brave individuals from even walking outdoors, let alone running, the Maroons were unfazed in their approach.

“Besides a pair of gloves, I wore the same type of uniform during the race that I wore during our late summer meets,” third-year Henry Blood said. “There wasn’t any wind, so the cold actually made the course very fast, as the ground was very hard like a track.”

While the temperatures may have been low in Wisconsin, the implications of the meet were the opposite. A high finish for any individual, or the team as a whole, would possibly be enough to earn an at-large bid to the DIII National Championships taking place in Ohio next weekend.

A trip to the national tournament would not be in the cards for the men, as they finished ninth out of the 38 teams in the highly competitive Regional. While the team was unable to secure an at-large bid to the national tournament, it was able to send an individual, third-year Michael Frasco, to the national tournament on the heels of a career-best time of 24:50.8 on the 8k course.

In fact, four of the Maroon men were able to put up career-best times over the weekend, including Frasco and second-year Gareth Jones, both of whom earned All-Regional honors, as Frasco finished 21st and Jones took home 27th (25:02.2).

“We ran well as a team. The top four of our seven runners all ran personal-best times over the 8k course. However, getting ninth as a team in the region was disappointing,” Blood said.

While the men were unable to advance to the national championship, the women’s team will get a chance to improve upon last year’s fourth-place national finish, as they earned an at-large bid after finishing third out of 51 teams at regionals.

The Maroons were able to prove they were worthy of a bid to the national tournament: Four of the seven Chicago runners earned All-Region recognition by finishing in the top 35 of 281 runners. Earning All-Regional honors for the Maroons were third-year Catherine Young, who finished fifth with a time of 21:38.5, third-year Brianna Hickey, who crossed the line in 13th (21:48.8), fellow third-year Maggie Cornelius, who took 18th (21:59.5), and finally first-year Megan Verner-Crist, who finished 24th (22:10.7).

With their outdoor season coming to a close this coming weekend, the women’s team and Frasco will hit the trails on Saturday in Mason, OH for the NCAA DIII Championship at 11 a.m.