It was never really about the results. As first-year Daniel Povitsky put it, “I think it’s important to see [how far] we’ve come.
The distance was certainly notable as the Maroon men’s cross country team put up personal best times in what would turn out to be their last race of the season. Finishing 10th at the Midwest Regional Championship this past Saturday at Augustana College, the team's overall progress proved far more important.
Second-year Wyatt Jones noted that “five of our seven runners ran personal records Saturday.” Second-year, all-region honoree Bill Whitmore finished 31st in a field of 275 runners with a time of 24:50 to lead Chicago. Third-year Moe Bahrani was 44th with a time of 25:07 in the eight kilometer race. Fourth-year Arthur Baptist ran the course in 25:17, Povitsky ran 25:22, and Isaac Dalke rounded out the five qualifying scores with a time of 25:30.
The team as a whole scored 244 points, a ways behind the winners, North Central College, who entered the meet as defending national champions and are currently ranked first in the nation. Central’s Michael Spain finished first individually with a time of 24:06, an the team won with 37 points.
The race was run over a relatively flat course at the Saukie Golf Course, which Jones thought “favored [the Marooons] more than the hills in New York.”
But the team would still have needed, in the words of Povitsky, their “best day [to qualify] for the fifth spot in the Midwest Region,” a finish essentially guaranteeing a place at the D-III championship meet.
The Maroons started their season with the goal of qualifying for the national championships. “After last year's regional meet, the entire team got together and decide that next year, we wanted to qualify for the national meet this year,” Jones acknowledged. “[The problem was] although we had some great performances, we never had a day where everyone ran at their top level.” The runners felt that this changed at the regionals, where most of the team achieved personal bests.
“All the countless thresholds, tempos, intervals, and long runs finally came to fruition at the regional meet, despite our 10th place team finish,” top finisher Bill Whitmore reckoned.
Though the triumphal finish never materialized, the team felt they kept pace with their perennial rival UW counterparts and ran a solid, intelligent race, taking care never to overstrain themselves at any point. The personal bests accrued by Chicago’s runners were among the top 15 times in UChicago’s history. It was also important to note that while Chicago’s team score this year was lower than last year’s, the current season’s was a hard-fought result in an increasingly difficult region with several opposing teams also producing outstanding performances. Said Povitsky, “The Midwest Region is by far the best in NCAA Division III.”
However, the Maroons reject this result as the final word. “The future is promising,” predicts Povitsky. “The squad is relatively young and we return a vast majority of our varsity [next year].”