Cross country teams suffer loss in UAA Championships
After third-place finishes in the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships last year and a determined effort in the Carnegie Mellon Invitational four weeks ago, the men’s and women’s cross country teams looked poised to post impressive results in Saturday’s UAA Championships.
But on a chilly Saturday afternoon, both teams failed to carry the momentum from their successes in the Invitational that featured the same course in Schenley Park.
The men’s team finished fourth, while the women’s team took eighth place. Washington University in St. Louis, the No. 2 team in the nation, finished first in the men’s side, while the No. 9 University of Chicago took first in the women’s side.
Carnegie Mellon’s only top 10 finish was senior Josh Newby, who finished the the men’s 8k course with a time of 25:44.3.
“We had some good individual performances, but as a team we didn’t click,” head coach Dario Donatelli said. “At our conference level, with so many nationally ranked teams, you better be on, and we weren’t on as a team.”
Sophomore Rekha Schnepf finished first in the women’s 6k race at 27th place overall with a time of 23:17.3, and junior Erin Kiekhaefer, the team’s usual first-place finisher, came in at 32nd overall with a time of 23:27.1.
The University of Chicago had six runners finish within the top 20, and New York University, ranked No. 8 in the country and the second-place team in the Championships, had three runners finish in the top eight.
“I don’t think it was the best that we could have done,” Schnepf said.
The race was held on a cool fall day with strong gusts, so the weather could have been a factor in the team’s performances. However, Schnepf dismissed that possibility.
“We’ve run some other races that were pretty chilly, and we were fine. I think it’s just an accumulation from the season, and we were all more nervous,” Schnepf said.
Rounding out the rest of the women’s top five finishers were senior Catherine Paquette in 34th place. First-year Emily Joyce, and sophomore Priya Patel finished together in 38th and 39th place.
On the men’s side, while Newby led the charge, junior George Degen finished 13 seconds later in 15th place overall with a time of 25:57.5.
“The hills are tough on the last two miles ... but I think we all finished pretty well,” Newby said.
Senior Ken Murphy finished third on the team and in 30th place overall with a time of 26:34.2, and senior Brendan O’Hara and sophomore Marc-Daniel Julien took 35th and 36th place.
The team’s top five finishers, however, did not come close to Washington University in St. Louis, which had four runners finish within the top six. No. 7 New York University, finishing second, had three runners finish before Newby.
“We knew Wash. U. was going to be good. We knew NYU was going to be good. Hey, maybe we got a little wake-up call for our Regionals,” Donatelli said.
Both teams will have two weeks to prepare for their next challenge. They travel to Muhlenberg College on Nov. 16 for the NCAA Regionals, their penultimate meet of the season. Their final meet is the NCAA Championships on Nov. 23 at Hanover College.