Running isn’t always predictable. In fact, there are many factors that make running downright unpredictable. The Colorado College cross country team was in a rebuilding phase this fall, but managed to send two standout sophomores to the NCAA Division III championship race. Erin Morrow’s time of 22:44.90 placed her at 96 in a field of 277 runners, and Nick Hill finished his 8K course in 27:15:90 seconds, which placed him 255 in a field of 280.
Morrow’s journey to nationals was something no one expected. She is a transfer from Davidson College, and expected that she would need a year or so to develop into a top-five runner. Head coach Ted Castaneda was surprised when Erin started cutting her times. She led the team over four times this year, running some amazing times that far surpassed the 20:20 5K time she came into the season with. Erin not only qualified for nationals, but she cut nearly two minutes off of her 5K time on route to setting the new school record for the 6K race.
“She was essentially an enigma this season. Her achievements were something we didn’t expect and couldn’t have predicted; they seemed to come out of nowhere. She totally amazed us. How do you find someone that has over a two-minute drop? You can’t predict that, it just happens,” Castaneda said.
But Morrow’s agenda wasn’t rooted in making it to nationals–she just loves to run.
“When I go for a run it’s a break in my day and it’s a happy thing. For me, cross country is a huge team sport. I just love to run, so I joined cross country in 7th grade to have people to run with. I’ve never really been into dropping times or trying to get trophies. I find it a lot more fun to accept a trophy or do well as a team. I’m never alone out on the course because I’m with my teammates. Catching up and running with them for a bit keeps me going. The loneliest I felt was at nationals. I missed my team,” Morrow said.
Unlike Morrow, Hill had his mind set on making it to nationals since returning from nationals last year as a freshman.
Hill was the SCAC freshman of the year last year, and came in to the season with high hopes. Throughout the season he was consistently among the top three runners, along with Graham Frank and Max Marinelli. Since the Colorado College men weren’t going to qualify as a team, Hill had to be among the top seven in the region to qualify for nationals as an individual. A runner from Trinity University challenged him for the qualifying position, but Hill knows when and how to break away in races and achieved the time he needed to make it.
Making it to nationals for a second year in a row is quite an achievement in itself, but Hill came out of his race more motivated than ever.
“It was a great experience being at nationals last year which gave me motivation to go back and do better, but my goal is to keep improving and eventually make it to the top. I would love to be an all-American by my senior year. That of course is the best-case scenario, and I’ll have to do well in every season up until then,” Hill said.
Morrow ran away with 96th place, and Hill finished in 255th place. Both runners expressed that they felt overwhelming support from their teammates before, during, and after their races.
“The week before nationals, when I was training by myself, they didn’t seem out of the loop at all. I still felt like we were on the team together. We didn’t practice all together, but I still felt like they were there to help me,” said Hill.
Both Morrow and Hill had great seasons, and though Hill felt he didn’t finish as planned, it was an achievement to make it to nationals for the second year in a row. While Hill is well aware of his goals, Morrow has a laid-back attitude toward her achievements and upcoming seasons.
“I don’t really take any of it too seriously. I just like to run. It does suck to work hard and not see results, so it would be nice next year if I could do as well or better in at least a couple races next year. No real expectations, I guess,” said Morrow. “I’m just excited for another season here. I just love it so much.”