By Nick Bradley & Zak Hudak
The Emory men’s and women’s cross country teams posted satisfying performances at Saturday’s Inter-Regional Rumble hosted by Oberlin College (Ohio). The men finished with 281 points, ranking 11th out of 34 teams, and the women finished seventh out of 40 teams, with a total of 256 points.
Both the men’s and women’s teams from the State University of New York at Geneseo finished first at the event.
“This was the first real test of us against national-caliber Division III teams,” Head Coach John Curtin said. “Everyone competed well, the women particularly.”
For the fourth meet in a row, Emory senior Tamara Surtees clocked the women’s fastest 6K time at 22:37, ranking her 12th out of 341 runners.
Junior Marissa Gogniat was the second fastest Eagle, placing 34th with a time of 23:12 and senior Elise Viox was third, finishing with her season-best time of 23:47.
She placed 63rd overall. Other point scorers for the women’s team included senior Stephanie Crane, who finished 73rd, and freshman Gabrielle Rudolph, who finished 80th.
Senior Tyler Cooke was the top scorer for the men’s team, finishing 41st out of 278 runners with a time of 26:22.
He was one of three Eagles to finish in the top 50. The others were senior Alex Fleischhacker, who placed 45th with a time of 26:24 and junior Lukas Mees who followed close behind at 46th with a time of 26:28. Sophomore Grant Murphy posted his season-best time of 26:35, placing 57th.
“We went [to the Inter-Regional Rumble] last year and we went back hoping for better conditions,” Curtin said. “It was cold, sloppy and muddy. Times were not good.”
The conditions played as much a part in the runners’ mental game as it did their physical game.
“[Bad conditions] just make it harder to focus,” Cooke said. “Obviously it’s difficult when the grass is slippery but, when you’re running through the mud, it seems like you’re wasting so much energy and not getting anywhere. You really have to focus on moving forward.”
To make matters worse, the University Athletic Association (UAA) is a particularly competitive conference for cross-country. According to Curtin, six of the eight UAA cross country teams are nationally ranked, and while the Eagles women’s team is nationally ranked, the men’s is not. The men’s team, on the other hand, is ranked second in their region.
Although Cooke expressed some disappointment with the performance of the men’s team against other the UAA teams at the meet, Curtin was more optimistic, especially with regard to the big meets coming up on the schedule.
“Right now, these are the tough days,” he said. “It’s time to get physically and mentally strong for the few meets ahead. Everything we’ve done up to now has been preparatory. When you look back on the season, what you remember are the UAA and National Championships.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams will have this coming weekend off as they prepare for the UAA championships, which will be hosted on Nov. 1 at Washington University (Mo.).
Surtees said she thinks the extra week of training will help the team succeed at Washington.
“We said at the beginning of the year that we wanted to place in the top four at UAAs, and it looks like that’s feasible,” she said.
Sports Editor Zak Hudak contributed reporting.
– By Nick Bradley, Features Editor & Zak Hudak, Sports Editor