Obie Harriers Run Away with Impressive Weekend Finishesby Aaron Mucciolo
Both cross-country teams were in action last Saturday at two separate meets. The womenıs team took first in a dual meet against OAC powerhouse Ohio Northern University. The men took fifth at the Allegheny Invitational in Meadeville, Pennsylvania.
Senior co-captain Jennifer Huelsman was the top Yeowoman taking second in the 5K run with a personal-best 19:47. Sophomores Laura Feeney and Lori Tuchfeld were close behind, finishing third and fourth respectively. Sophomore Kyle McKenzie was sixth.
³Ohio Northern is really good and their team is really large,² said Huelsman. Ohio Northern tends to use its size to its advantage, starting fast and then clogging the trail early on. When that strategy fails, however, it can be a morale boost for the other team. ³Itıs fun to pass all 27 of them in the first mile,² said Huelsman. Feeney agreed. ³We looked great. The other team went out as a pack and we just took them down.²
Also scoring for Oberlin were first-year Julia Goeke (11), junior Jen Noel (12) and senior co-captain Beth Spaulding (14).
Ohio Northern junior Elizabeth Stierwalt took first. Several runners from Capital University competed, but none scored.
Also of note was first-year Alexis VanPelt who did not score but did drop two minutes off her time from last weekıs Oberlin Invitational.
³What felt best about the meet was that we were running together very well,² said Huelsman. ³Not only was that cool to see, but it shows how well weıre doing as a team.²
Team unity is important in cross country since scores are calculated in such a way that a team placing most of its runners in moderately good positions will often do better than a team that only has one or two stellar performers.
Both the menıs and womenıs squads have long histories of camaraderie that is evident both on and off the field. ³The other first-years and I talk about how [the team] is always ultra accepting and very supportive,² said VanPelt about team relations. ³Thereıs always something social planned.²
Despite a similarly strong team unity, the men were unable to muster as strong a showing as the women, attributable in part to injury. First-year Alex Scally missed the meet with a mild leg injury. He is not expected to run with the team in New York next weekend so he can recover fully.
³Thatıs going to hurt us,² said senior Erik Mallea. ³[Alex] is a fast dude [and] a solid runner. Now instead of improving heıs sitting out.²
Senior co-captains David Bevacqua and John Rogers placed second and fifth respectively.
Bevacqua led the field for the first half of the race according to Mallea. After falling far behind eventual meet winner Dan Princic of Allegheny, Bevacqua charged back and crossed the finish just 10 seconds after Princic. Mallea was the next highest finisher at 27th.
The teamıs focus remains on reducing such gaps. But such a focus has always been with the squad and all too often an injury at an inopportune moment has left the Yeomen farther down in the standings than they would like. Bevacqua was still battling a cold at last yearıs conference championship. Rogers missed the 1998 conference meet with a twisted ankle.
Much of how this season turns out will depend on the instruction of first-year coach Gavin OıNeal. OıNeal takes over the reigns after serving as graduate assistant last year. Despite a history of near misses, OıNeal does seem to have the support of his runners.
³Heıs gained respect from us,² said Mallea. ³I mean, Iım really willing to run for him. He plays things really smart and he trains us really hard. Thatıs why Iım so positive about my own improvement and where the team will finish.²
Both the menıs and womenıs varsity squads, consisting of the top seven runners from each team, will race next weekend at the New York Invitational. The JV teams will travel to Wooster for that school invitational. Both meets are on September 23.
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