On a brisk and sunny morning last Saturday, Adam Dalton ’16 raced to a first place finish at the 54th Annual Les Duke Cross Country Invitational at the Grinnell Golf & Country Club.
“I had never won a cross country race in college before,” Dalton said. “It’s very weird to be chased by people as opposed to chasing people.”
The Les Duke is Grinnell’s only home meet of the season. Despite the relatively early start times of the two races, large crowds of students and other supporters came out to the course to cheer on the runners. There were 12 full teams in the men’s race and 11 in the women’s race. Both teams placed well with the men’s team coming in second overall and the women’s team coming in fourth.
“We were all really happy with how we did,” said Emma Zimmerman ’18, who led the women’s team during the race. “What made it more amazing was the support from all the people that came out to the race.”
Zimmerman came in 14th place overall, finishing with a personal best time of 23:17 in the 6-kilometer race. Also placing in the top 20 was Emma Luhmann ’18 coming in 17th place and Alosha Southern ’17 not too far behind in 20th place. Although they were beaten overall by Cornell College and St. Norbert College, who are both in the Midwestern Conference, the Pioneers are still looking to beat these teams at the Conference meet. The women’s team has won the Conference title for the past two years and much like this year, were not favored to win Conference at the beginning of the season.
“We kind of like being the underdogs,” said women’s head coach Evelyn Freeman
Despite their status, Freeman is happy with their performance.
“We are about two weeks ahead of where we were at this time last year,” she said.
On the men’s side, Dalton finished first overall in the 8-kilometer race with a time of 25:48 in a victory that earned him the honor of being named the Midwest Conference Men’s Cross Country Performer of the Week. Dalton said that winning was not his original intention going into the race.
“I was just planning on running a conservative first couple of miles and then going from there,” Dalton said.
Grinnell had four other top 20 finishers: Anthony Mclean ’17 took 12th, Nate Kolacia ’16 took 14th, Pieter Hansen ‘19 took 18th and John Lennon ’19 took 20th. The team came in second overall behind Wartburg College.
“This team is so deep. We have 10 guys who could be running in the low 27s or under in an 8K” Dalton said.
Dalton also highlighted the performance of the first-years. For the majority of them this was their first 8-kilometer race and, as seen from the results, many of them competed at a very high level.
The men’s team is a favorite for winning the Midwest Conference this year, which is not surprising considering that they have won the past 27 out of 29 seasons. This race set them up nicely for yet another Conference title, having beaten the other Conference teams who were part of the invitational. The next race for the men’s and women’s teams is today, Sept. 18, at the Augustana Invitational in Rock Island, Ill.