Running away from the field

NOTRE DAME, IN. — Last Friday, Sept. 20, brought warm weather and the annual cross country National Catholic Championships hosted by Notre Dame. Teams from all divisions (DI, DII, DIII, and NAIA) traveled across the nation to Indiana for this exciting event. Due to the size of the meet, results were broken up into two categories: Division I and non-Division I. The day was warm and humid, but as the Duhawks travel to this meet every year, they were prepared for the conditions.

“I think the heat was definitely a factor, but it’s one that every runner had to deal with,” sophomore runner Luke Guttormson said. “We know that Conference, Regionals and Nationals will rarely be run with perfect conditions, so this is a way to mentally prepare for the conditions of the meets that really mean a lot to us.”

The National Catholic Championships started out with a co-ed open race, with members of both the men’s and women’s teams competing. In the open race, the women ran a 5k course while the men ran a bit farther in an 8k course. For the women, three women broke twenty minutes in the 5k with junior Emma Woelfel coming in with a time of 20:48.56, junior Hannah Insko finishing with a time of 20:57.16, and first-year Marianne Gleason finishing with a time of 20:59.76. Junior Shania Kelly (21:05.54), senior Molly MacDuff (21:20.30), and first-year Abby Landwehr (21:57.57) were not far behind. For the men, junior Ethan Hammerand crossed the line eighth in the race with a time of 28:33.58. Behind Hammerand came sophomore Sam Webster (28:48.33), senior Max Ross (28:58.54), first-year Drew Brase (29:12.71), and senior Jake Jansen (29:19.90).

In the varsity races, both men and women coincidentally took second place in the non-Division I rankings. Both teams lost the top spot to a Division II nationally-ranked team from Walsh University in Ohio. However, both the men’s and women’s teams came in first out of all Division III teams attending the meet—a very good sign for both teams, as this was the first large meet the Duhawks have attended this season. The team’s new assistant coach Ethan Adlfinger had a lot of positive things to say about the races.

“The teams did a great job of being prepared-no one seemed rushed or tense,” Adlfinger said. “I was also impressed that no one was vocal about factors outside of our control, mainly the weather and the environment we were in. It would have been easy to have negative thoughts creep in about the heat on Friday or that this was a high-caliber meet held at Notre Dame. The team focused on what they could control—themselves—and let the high energy environment enhance their performances.”

The women’s cross country team huddles before racing in the National Catholic Championships hosted by Notre Dame. The next big meet will be Oct. 5 at the Wartburg Invitational.

On the women’s side—placing sixth overall as a team; second in the non-DI division—junior Kassie Rosenbum took first out of all the Division III runners and fourth overall in the 5k race, setting a new cross country 5k record along the way with a time of 17:57.48. This broke the previous record of 18:05, set by Amy Edwards in 2000. Regarding her race, Rosenbum said she was not deterred by the humid racing conditions and was determined to accomplish her goals.

“I started out from the start line feeling strong, and got up to the front right away,” Rosenbum said about her race. “I reached my first mile at the time I wanted and knew I just needed to keep going at the same pace. The heat was a struggle, but I ignored it, and kept my mind focused on passing the next girl in front of me. When I finished, I was so shocked that I had exceeded my goals with an overall fourth place finish and breaking the school record.”

               Following Rosenbum’s stellar performance, the next Duhawks to cross the line were fifth-year Audrey Miller with a time of 19:10.46, sophomore Kaylee Osterberger with a time of 19:51.26, senior Maeve Dunaway in 20:14.05, and junior Cam Reeg in 20:16.18. The results of this race were exciting, as the women finished as the top Division III team, beating the next DII team (St. Norbert College) by over a hundred points. St. Norbert College is ranked thirty-second in the nation by the USTFCCCA, whereas Loras’ women’s team is currently unranked.

On the men’s side—placing fifth as a team overall, second in the non-DI division—sophomore Luke Guttormson ran an 8k time of 26:22.46 to finish in sixteenth place overall. Senior Patrick Wolak crossed the line close behind Guttormson, with a time of 26:29.73 for an eighteenth place finish. Wolak was pleased with the way the race turned out, both for the team and for himself, stating:

“Luke and I moved up substantially from the mile to the finish and beat some people we did not expect to beat. I was really pleased with how the team did. Obviously, it would always be nice to win the non-D1 division, but Walsh has a great team and to finish fifth overall was very good.”

Following Guttormson and Wolak were senior Cole Conklin-Little (26:55.41), junior Joey Schultz (27:16.37), and senior Blake Keller (27:34.85).

“Looking ahead, I hope the teams will continue to keep the nose to the grindstone attitude they have had thus far,” assistant coach Adelfinger said. “We still have hard work ahead of us, so it will be important to sustain the level of commitment we have seen thus far in order to build upon the success we have experienced up to this point. It can be easy for complacency to settle in after having some positive results, but I know each group is excited to get back to training and continue raising the standard of excellence.”

In two weekends, on Saturday, Oct. 5, the Duhawks will travel again to Waverly, Iowa, to race at Wartburg College—the site of the 2019 Regional Cross Country championship race—to see how the Duhawks perform against conference teams they did not see at the Notre Dame meet last weekend.

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Audrey Miller is a writer for The Lorian.

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