By Joe Engleman
The men’s and women’s cross-country teams both finished in the top ten at the Central Regional Championships this past weekend in Northfield, Minnesota. The excellent finishes and the men’s recent reclaiming of the Midwest Conference title weren’t the only reasons to celebrate the successful season. Stephanie Rouse ’13, Sarah Burnell ’14 and Frank Canady ’14 will have the opportunity to compete for All-American status this Saturday, November 17 at the NCAA Division III Cross-Country National Championship in Terre Haute, Indiana. The title will be awarded to the top thirty-five finishers.
Unfortunately, the men’s team’s tenth place run on Saturday wasn’t enough to propel the whole team to Nationals. However, men’s coach Will Freeman remained satisfied with the team’s performance this season, and the team’s camaraderie.
“I’m certainly proud of them. Our goal this year was to get that conference title back,” he said. “It’s a very close team. I love the team dynamic this year. I would have liked to see them make it as a team, mainly for the seniors’ sake.”
Will Freeman was particularly happy with the performance of Erik Figge ’13. Figge ran his final cross-country meet and finished in the top thirty-five with a time of 26:30.3 for the eight-kilometer race.
“He gave it his all,” Will Freeman said.
The women’s team went into Regionals ranked ninth and wrapped up the eighth spot. Burnell ran into the top ten, crossing the finish line with a time of 22:37.6 for six kilometers. Rouse posted a time of 23:10.7 and finished in the top twenty. Women’s coach Evelyn Freeman was buoyed by their performance, especially the success of the first years.
“We’ve got five freshmen that are in the top scoring group or right on the bubble. That bodes well for the future,” she said.
Burnell credited members of the crowd for firing her up around the three-mile marker of a tough race.
“I hit the third mile mark and one of my teammates’ parent’s yelled out, ‘You’re in twelfth place.’ I was rejuvenated,” she said.
The end didn’t seem too far after that to Burnell, especially with another reason to celebrate at the end.
“Crossing the finish line was when I realized my season goal to make it Nationals had been completed,” she said.
While Nationals has been Burnell’s goal all season, she’s run up an impressive résumé this fall, recording the second fastest time in school history and winning the MWC individual title. She’ll be joined by Rouse, who is returning to Nationals for the second time. She went last year, her first year on the cross-country team.
“To go to Nationals by yourself was a little bit intimidating because she [Rouse] didn’t know what to expect, and she was running by herself. It’s really nice for her that she’s been there and she’s got a teammate who she’ll run with,” Evelyn Freeman said.
Canady’s first trip to Nationals, during his first year, was with the entire men’s team. This year, his path back to Nationals was different. He battled back from an injury that almost ended his season before it began. However, the knowledge that he snatched his accomplishments from the jaws of injury have made his trip to Nationals that much sweeter.
“I couldn’t have imagined it any better,” Canady said.