Mulder Leads Pack at UAA Championships
This week the men’s and women’s cross country squads travelled to the University of Rochester for the University Athletic Association (UAA) Conference Championships.
The UAA is known for being a very strong cross country conference, with six men’s teams and five women’s teams ranked in the top 32 in the nation. On a cold, rainy day in Rochester, the conference lived up to its reputation, with impressive performances from all teams present.
As usual, junior Eddie Mulder crossed the line first for the Eagles, with his time of 25:47 good for 16th place. Though disappointed to finish just out of the All-Conference team (top 14), Mulder ran for an impressive personal best nonetheless.
In addition, Mulder showed massive improvement from his conference race last year, where he finished over a minute slower and in 44th place.
The next four Eagles across the line, senior Stephen Ellwood, freshman Lukas Mees, junior Alex Fleischacker and junior Hank Ashforth, ran as a team, with only 9 seconds separating Ellwood (26:10) from Ashforth (26:19).
This racing style helped the Eagles, as Mees, Fleischacker and Ashforth all finished with new personal bests.
Mees was pleased to lower his personal best with a very impressive showing in his first collegiate conference meet, despite losing his shoe and tripping in the first 200 meters of the race. Fleischacker also had a big day, lowering his personal best by thirty seconds.
Finally, Ashforth ran a stellar race, setting himself a massive personal record and solidifying his spot as the fifth runner on the team.
Although Ashforth was pleased with his race, he knows that it is time to start “focusing on winning the Southeast Region in two weeks” and is confident after the team’s performance in Rochester that “we’ll be in contention to win it”.
Rounding out the top 7 that will be travelling to Regionals in two weeks were sophomores Patrick Crews and Cameron Wheeler, who both also ran to personal bests on Saturday.
Overall, the team finished in seventh place, only three points behind the University of Rochester, who is currently ranked 22nd in the nation.
Associate Coach Carl Leivers was “pleased to see numbers four and five step up” and hopes that everyone in “the top five can really click in two weeks at regionals”.
On the women’s side, sophomore Tamara Surtees clocked a time of 22 minutes and 40 seconds for a ninth place finish overall.
Surtees’ breakout performance earned her Second Team All-UAA honors.
“I am excited to be recognized as a top runner in the UAA, especially since it is a competitive conference with a lot of really talented runners,“ Surtees said.
Freshman Aileen Rivell was the next Eagle to finish with a time of 23:11, followed closely by senior captain Calley Edwards, who ran a 23:18.
The remainder of the top seven included sophomore Elise Viox, sophomore Hannah Smith, sophomore Marissa Gogniat, and sophomore Stephanie Crane.
The spread between the third and seventh overall team places was a close 24 points, with only six points separating fifth and seventh place.
“For as well as Tamara, Aileen, and Calley raced, we had too many key kids that we count on to be scorers under-perform,” Head Coach John Curtin said. “Inconsistency has been the story of this team all year and it will kill you in a conference this strong.”
Edwards agreed with Curtin that the team was dissatsified with the seventh place finish.
Seven runners will compete in the post-season. In choosing his top seven runners, Curtin cited consistency as the determining factor.
“We need athletes who will race well regardless of the conditions and post-season pressures,” Curtin said.
The Eagles have two weeks to prepare for competition in the NCAA Regional Championships in Hampton, Ga. on the Nash Farm Battlefield. The men’s race is set to go off at 10 a.m., followed by the women’s race at 11 a.m.
— By Megan Hunter