As the Colorado College cross-country team heads into the home stretch of its season, runners have a conference title and qualifying for nationals in their sights.
“If everyone on the regional team is able to stay clear of injury, work their butts off for one more month, and have a phenomenal race,” says junior Jacob Rothman, then qualifying for nationals “is definitely possible.”
The runners travel to Hays, Kan. this weekend, for a final tune-up before the SCAC Conference Meet in San Antonio, Tex. on Nov. 1. The regional meet will take place in Salem, Ore. on Nov. 15.
In Kansas, they are hoping that a fast course and strong competition will push them to personal bests. “I’m looking forward to a real breakthrough race for myself and several of my teammates who’ve been working really hard and are finally about to start seeing that pay off,” said senior captain Graham Frank.
Like any team, the Tigers have faced injuries and a bad race here and there, but as runners continue to shave seconds off their times and set new personal records, the season is shaping up to be one to remember.
Frank was named SCAC Runner of the Week for two consecutive weeks, most recently on Oct. 5 after posting a season-best 8-kilometer time of 26:07 in the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational in Claremont, Calif. His time helped power the Tiger men to a seventh-place finish in a meet that featured Division II, Division III, and NAIA schools.
On the women’s side, sophomore Leah Wessler captured SCAC Runner of the Week honors in late September after capturing fifth-place at the Cowboy Jamboree in Stillwater, Okla., with a season-best time in the 5-kilometer of 19:22. The women took third of 16 teams in the college division that weekend, their best finish ever at the Oklahoma State University meet.
With runners approaching peak condition, the men’s team hopes to avenge a tough second-place finish to Trinity University in last year’s conference meet. “Last year, a couple of our top runners got the flu right before conference, and we lost the title to Trinity by one point,” Frank said. “This year, we want that title back.”
Trinity is “a good team, but we’re better,” he added. “I think that we’re ready to match their depth and be competitive with them up front.”
The girls also hope to improve on a second-place finish in last year’s conference meet. “We have always been a dedicated and hard-working program, but this year there is a new level of commitment and determination, and it shows,” said senior captain Erin Morrow. “We’re a lot faster.”
The CC cross-country team is ready to finish out the season strong. When asked what to expect from the remaining meets of the season, sophomore Conor Terhune simply said, “The best is yet to come.”