Lawrence University’s men’s and women’s cross country teams competed at the Augustana Interregional Rumble in Rock Island, Ill. last Saturday, marking their last competition before the Midwest Conference Championships in Monmouth, Ill. Both teams were up against tough competition, with 450 other athletes in the varsity races, including runners from Washington University and the University of Chicago, as well as Knox College and Grinnell College, who will also be competing at the MWC championships. This showed in their team standings, with the men’s team finishing twenty-sixth and women’s team finishing fifteenth out of a total of twenty-seven teams. Despite lower rankings overall, it was a very important step towards securing another conference championship, as many runners on both teams achieved their personal best times in their respective races.
Women’s team star Cristyn Oliver was undoubtedly the standout runner of the invite, completing the women’s 6,000m course in just 22:06.1, the second fastest time in Lawrence cross country history, and placing 27th. (The current record is held by Lawrence Hall-of-Famer Valerie Curtis, who ran 22:01.0 in 2002.) This was a personal best for Oliver, whose previous record was fourteen seconds slower. She was also recently named Midwest Conference Performer of the Week for the third week in a row, bringing her total number of Performer of the Week awards to thirteen, with eight for cross country and five for track.
Other scorers on the women’s side included Riley Winebrenner in 99th place (23:35.8), Madeline Taylor in 105th place (23:45.9), Althea Foster in 114th place (23:59.5), and Aasma Haider in 126th place (24:34.1). Scorers for the men’s 8,000m course included Adam Bruce in 109th place (25:57.1), Itai Bojdak-Yates in 156th place (27:21.0), Connor Myatt in 157th place (27:27.1), Bergen Thorson in 172nd place (28:14.9), and Ray Wetzel-Meehan in 174th place (28:19.4).
Both teams will continue to prepare throughout the next two weeks, focusing on staying healthy and being properly rested for the Conference Championships. One of the more unique ways the team boosts morale during these crucial weeks is a tradition called “Wacky Wednesdays.” Wacky Wednesdays began nine years ago, and it sees the teams compete against each other by dressing with a different theme for every Wednesday practice. Themes are chosen by senior members of both teams, and so far this season, they have included Crayon Day and Coach Fast Day, where the teams dress like Head Cross Country Coach Jason Fast. Pictures of Wacky Wednesday attire can be found on Lawrence’s cross country and track and field iInstagram page, or they can be spotted running around Appleton every Wednesday afternoon this October.
The cross country vVikings are hoping this team spirit can help them uphold their champion status as they head to the Gibson Woods Golf Course in Monmouth, Ill. on Oct. 28. Both teams will be arriving a day early to hold their last pre-conference practice on the course. The Midwest Conference Championships will be held the next day, with the women’s team racing at 11 a.m., followed by the men’s team at 12 p.m.