Wind, congestion slows cross country

Alex York

On paper, the team scores look disheartening. After having beaten the rival Grinnell team at the Roy Griak Invitational several weeks ago, the Lawrence men’s cross-country team was edged out by a mere six points at last weekend’s Brooks Invitational at Lake Breeze Golf Course.

The Vikings, despite the loss to Grinnell, are keeping it in perspective. Commented senior Tom Coben, “Ultimately it’s the conference meet that matters to us, not the Brooks invite.” Nevertheless, several of the Viking men had standout races, including Coben, who dropped 30 seconds on his season personal best.

The course lived up to its name Saturday by providing the racers with a strong headwind for much of the race. Running in the largest field of runners that they will face all season, the first mile was “pretty hectic,” remarked Coben. “With hundreds of runners jostling for position it can get pretty crazy,” he said. Coben saw several runners fall at the beginning and “actually had to jump over somebody to avoid a pileup.”

After the race thinned out over the course of the next couple miles, the Viking men were able to move up and place respectably against staunch competition. Remaining atop the standings for Lawrence was junior standout Sam Stevens, who covered the 8,000 m course in 26:03.

Just as it was the previous weekend at the Gene Davis Invitational, sophomore Curran Carlile and senior Sam Estrem were the next two to cross the line with times of 26:58 and 27:16, respectively. Freshman Kyle Dockery finished the race in 27:34, ahead of a group of Lawrentian men lead by Coben. Running a 27:57, Coben was followed directly by freshman Pat Mangan and sophomore Dan Thoresen, who ran 27:59 and 28:09, respectively.

On the women’s side, the theme of continuous improvement again rang true. Also battling the wind and congestion, the Vikings were able to put together a solid effort around the team.

Senior standout Emily Muhs again led the Vikings with her season best time of 23:54. Standing out were big races from sophomore Anna Ratliff, who dropped close to half a minute off her career personal best, running a 25:37 for 6,000 m, and senior Rosie Graber who also dropped over thirty seconds off her season best, running behind Ratliff with a 26:02.

Freshman Maggie Mahaffa followed directly behind Graber with her time of 26:04. Jumping for the first time into the scoring five was sophomore Kelsey Steffens with a time of 27:43.

The Viking women are looking to one-up themselves from their conference meet last year: “We are hoping to beat our place in conference from last year and be in the top four teams,” commented Ratliff. “We have a competitive conference, but I think we can do it!”

Both the men’s and women’s team have a break from racing this weekend but are preparing for the Conference Meet in Ripon the following Saturday.