Cross Country Teams Compete at A-10 Championships

Jacob Margolis-

The women’s team had four All-Conference runners (Top 15) for the team’s best finish in the A-10 in program history. Maddie Hunter ‘20, Sarah Sears ‘18, Laurel Sheffield ‘18, and Caroline Yarbrough ‘19 (from left to right). Photo courtesy of A-10 Conference.

Cross Country is an extremely challenging sport, the sheer amount of running and training that goes into excelling at the sport is insane. Everyone remembers (probably not fondly) the annual mile runs for the fitness tests in elementary, middle, and high school. The usual collegiate cross-country race is 8k for Men and 5k for Women. The daily training is equally grueling, with most members of the Men’s team averaging 8-10 miles a day. If you’re thinking you would rather be napping or watching TV instead of that you’re not crazy (or maybe I just really don’t like running). The point is that the cross-country runners are amazing athletes and their craft should be greatly appreciated.

On that note, how did the Men’s and Women’s teams do this year? According to Senior Ian Robertson, “overall, the [men’s] season didn’t finish the way we wanted.” Samuel Thomas ’20 added that the team “ended up 11th at the conference championships and [we] are not satisfied with that performance by any means.” These results are “certainly not indicative of all the hard work we put in throughout the season” says Ian, sometimes results just don’t break the right way.

That doesn’t mean the team had a worthless year, with freshman standout Jake Carver ‘21 adding that “we saw huge improvements all around in cross country. Coach Waldron did a great job of introducing the freshmen to harder training and higher weekly mileage while still keeping us healthy and motivated throughout the season. There was a huge jump in both fitness and discipline from the beginning to the end of cross country, and almost everyone was able to put up impressive times.” Carver also touched on the freshman, who played an important role this year as “in the past we consistently had standout athletes able to put up points at conference meets, but lacked the pure quantity of competitors that some of the bigger schools have.    Luckily, we have a large group of freshmen with talent in nearly every event. All of the freshman have already begun to tap a lot of unseen potential and are setting our aspirations very high.”

       This process of tapping into vast amounts of potential was sophomore Alex Hazan’s highlight of the season. He stated that “for me, the biggest highlight of the Cross-Country season was seeing our group of freshmen make the transition to college running.   This is a talented group of guys, with all of them possessing the ability to contribute on the conference level.” He ended with a quick thought, “we have a young team, with only two seniors on the track roster. All that youth comes with a lot of potential, and as long as we follow Coach Waldron’s advice about focusing on the process instead of the end result, we’re going to be happy with the outcome.” So, while the season didn’t end as the team was hoping, there is a very bright future. Some of that future will be seen sooner than later, with Thomas confidently stating, “right now, we are channeling [our] frustration as motivation for our first indoor meet at the beginning of December.” Ian later added on that, noting, “we will certainly be looking to bounce back from our performance at XC Conference and perform well in our early season meets to set the tone for our Indoor Conference Meet.”

What about the Women’s team? The women are a bit happier about their season than the men; Senior Sarah Sears exclaimed “we’ve had an awesome season so far. This is one of the strongest teams in program history, and it’s been really exciting to have everyone running so well.” Junior Caroline Yarbrough sang a similar tune, proclaiming “we have had a wonderful season so far and look forward to building on this momentum at the Southeast Regional meet this weekend!” Why has the season been so great? According to Caroline “this season has consisted of a great mix of meets with a range of competition and courses, resulting in opportunities to compete and excel racing against some of the best athletes in the nation at the Louisville Classic and Adidas XC Challenge, in addition to opportunities where we have completely dominated the field, such as the Queen City Invite, where we won and placed seven girls in the top ten. At the Adidas XC Challenge in Cary we beat two regionally ranked team as well as last year’s A-10 Champions, Richmond, which earned us a 13th place Regional ranking, the first Regional ranking in Davidson’s female program’s history.

We have continued to improve each meet and have nearly all run personal bests.  While we were ranked third in the Atlantic 10 Conference and met that expectation, we were only six points away from second place.” The women aren’t done yet as Caroline proudly stated that, “This weekend we are running at the Southeast Regionals at Panorama Farms in Charlottesville, Virginia. We have been preparing for the hilly and challenging course all year and are excited to see our hard work come to fruition race against a very competitive field.  Our goal is to beat our Regional ranking of 13th place and all finish out the season with 6k PR’s.” What has been the key, or rather keys, to such a great season? Sarah thinks it boils down to “consistency and trust in your teammates, above all else. We have been really disciplined all season about the small, day-to-day things like hydration, sleep, and recovery, which all adds up over time. As for trust, we may not all run together during a race, but knowing that your teammates are on the course with you and trusting that we’re all working hard for each other can really help during tough moments in a race.”

It’s been a valuable season for both the men and women (and the women have a chance to add a little more success to a great year this weekend). Again, these athletes can’t be shortchanged for the work they put in and the success they have achieved.

The Women’s team will be competing at the D1 Southeast Regional Meet this upcoming Friday in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Men’s team will next compete in the season’s first indoor track  meet on December 3rd in Winston, Salem.