One week after they took third at the Landmark Conference Championships, the men’s cross country team went on to place ninth at the NCAA Division III Mideast Regional. The Blue Jays competed against 51 other teams at DeSales University Saturday, Nov. 12.
The top performer of the Blue Jays was first-year Samuel Gerstenbacher. He had a season best time of 26:10 and placed 42 out of 351 runners. Senior Andrew Lesko jumped up 41 spots from his place last year and placed 49th with a time of 26:22.
The next two finishers for the Blue Jays were junior Tom Fitzgerald and first-year Ryan Rippeon, with respective times of 26:44 and 26:45. Fitzgerald took 81st place while Rippeon placed 84th.
Senior Keegan McDonough was 87th with his time of 26:47 and sophomore Tyler Alansky had a personal best of 26:51, which got him 93rd place.
Gerstenbacher shared that after being down five key runners from the previous year, “racing to ninth in the region was actually a testament to [the team’s] rebuilding process,” despite their hopes of placing higher.
“I have never been more proud than I am of this team and this season,” Gerstenbacher said. “I think I speak for the rest of the team in saying that the captains and seniors have been great role models and nothing but supportive for the younger guys on the team.”
Lesko said the team was hoping to make it to Nationals. Although they did not accomplish this, he is pleased with the team’s performance: “I am very happy with how everything went not only at this race but throughout the whole season. The veterans performed at their best, and in many ways, the first-year class over-performed throughout the season.”
The women’s cross country team, also coming off a third consecutive win at Landmark Conference Championships took third in the regional meet.
Four of the Blue Jays were named all-region. The top five runners for the Blue Jays all finished within one minute of each other and each of the Blue Jays placed in the top 50 out of 371 runners.
Senior Casey Quinto led and paced the team, placing 14th with a time of 22:04. Behind her, finishing in 21st place with a time of 22:29, was junior Brenna McNamee.
Ten seconds after McNamee, junior Kelsey Brady finished at 22:39, placing 24th. Junior Maria Anderson and senior Brianna Earnshaw had respective times of 22:48 and 22:57. Anderson placed 31st and Earnshaw took 36th.
Two spots behind Earnshaw was senior Liz Wedekind with a time of 23:05 and 38th place. Sophomore Colleen Kernan placed 47th with a time of 23:21.
Earnshaw says the team is excited to have met their goal of placing third. “Our coach stressed to us that we were all fit enough and that this race would come down to which team ran the smartest,” Earnshaw said. “We have such a close pack this year and that has made us such a strong team,” she added.
Quinto also commented on the team being “close-knit” and their plans to “run as a solid pack in the next race. We are excited to have placed third but want to perform even better at the NCAA meet on Saturday,” Quinto said.
The men’s team must wait to see if any runners have qualified for this weekend’s Division III Championship meet in Kentucky.