After its first week of rest in nearly a month and a half, the men’s cross country team will look to continue its dominant season at the Lucian Rosa Invitational this weekend.
In the opening half of their season, the Maroons won every race except the Illinois Intercollegiate, in which they placed fourth, behind No. 1 North Central, NAIA Olivet, and Division II Lewis.
Led by fourth-year captains Dan Povitsky and Sam Butler, the South Siders have picked up right where they left off last season. The team currently ranks 16th in the nation and sixth in the region. Last year, Chicago finished the season ranked 15th in the country, and missed out on an NCAA national berth by only one spot in the region.
“I feel the expectations are rising,” said head coach Chris Hall. “The general goal of our team going into every season is to advance to the NCAAs, and as the season is progressing, that seems to be a much more realistic goal.”
However, the Maroons can’t look ahead too far, as they still need to compete in the Lucian Rosa this weekend. The race will feature teams from all three divisions of the NCAA, the NAIA, and Canada. Since the first-year class is still unaccustomed to running at the collegiate level, the meet will provide the new team members with an excellent opportunity to gain experience.
“Our first-years have made a really positive impact upon our team,” Hall said. “My goals for them are to adapt to the University of Chicago, buy in to our team philosophy, and then to learn from the upperclassmen. This group seems to be embracing that attitude and feel. For that reason, they are going to be at their best at the end of the season.”
The Maroons have a clear strategy for the race. Povitsky, who has finished in the top five at every course he has raced at this season, will try for a top finish. The rest of the group will run in a pack, which will allow them to keep a solid pace.
“Our strength as a team comes from pack running,” Povitsky explained. “If [we] can execute that strategy, as [we] have been doing, then we will reach our highest potential as a team. We can further widen the point spread between us and other teams by having a pack of our [other] runners ahead of the fifth runner of our competitors.”
The Maroons will tackle the 8,000-meter, featuring numerous mile-long ascents, this Saturday at 10 a.m. in Kenosha, WI.
“We want to use this competition as an opportunity to test our pack running both mentally and physically in preparation for the post season,” Povitsky added. “I am confident that our packs will run well together and through the pain that comes along with difficult terrain. That kind of performance will elevate us to the top of the results and give us a lot of confidence heading into the championship part of the season.”