The men’s and women’s cross-country teams had their last competition Saturday, before the Landmark Conference Championships. The conference championships will be held Nov. 1 and the NCAA Mideast Regional will follow two weeks later on Nov. 15. The season is winding down, but there is still much to look forward to.
The runners have high expectations for themselves, and for the team. Junior Corey Wasilnak said he hopes the team will finish in the top five in the conference.
“We hope to finish third or fourth, because Elizabethtown, Susquehanna and Moravian are pretty good teams, so I think if we could beat one of those teams it would be a solid performance,” he said.
He led the team to a 22nd place finish Saturday at the Princeton Invitational, and he has had a role in each of the team’s meets this season. Regionals will provide substantially more competition for the team, as nearly 50 schools will participate in the race. Wasilnak hopes the team can finish around the middle of the pack.
“Last year, I think we were 24th out of 48, so if we can do better than 50% or top 50%, that’d be a nice race because that is everyone in the Northeast, so there are a lot of good teams there,” he said.
High expectations are also a theme on the women’s team. Senior Rachel Conniff believes that the team can defeat every opposing school it must face on Nov. 1 at Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.
“We want to win the conference championship. That would be the main goal there, to end the season on a high note and have everyone finish and do well,” she said.
She led the women’s team to its 18th place finish, from a total of 29 schools, at the Princeton Invitational last Saturday. Conniff also said the team has high hopes for NCAA Regionals. She can envision a scenario in which the team pushes past the regional competition.
“It would be great to run good at regionals as well and hopefully keep improving, and it would be awesome if we could move on to nationals,” she said. “That was one of our goals. Everything would have to come together right for that to happen, and we’d have to have all of our runners be there and do their best.”
While she said it was a long-shot goal, she still believes there is a chance.
“I know that last year at nationals, they took a lot of teams and we were closer than we’ve ever been to the top of the list for being taken to nationals,” Conniff said. “Marywood University went (last year) and I think we are better than them this year, so if we were to have a really good race, there could be a chance that they could take our team.”
A solid season for both teams comes down to the two races in the next four weeks, which the runners have trained for all season, and it will be interesting to watch as runners try to set new personal records and help their respective teams to the highest finish.