Both the men’s and the women’s cross country squads had impressive showings at the UW–Oshkosh AAE Invite this weekend. The meet is notoriously one of the toughest of the season for both teams, with competition from 13 states and 26 nationally ranked Division III teams.
Despite the field of brutal competition, the men placed 14th out of the 45 teams competing, with a score of 374 points. In the 8K race, located at Lake Breeze Golf Club, fourth-year Michael Frasco led the way for the Maroons, placing 19th out of 419 total runners. Third-year Gareth Jones was right behind him, finishing 28th at 25:11.
Frasco attributes the Maroons’ success to the consistent effort that the team has demonstrated through its training. “We had terrific summer and fall training that prepared us for this meet. All of the miles and hard workouts are starting to pay off as we enter our championship races,” said the fourth-year captain.
Now in his final season, Frasco credits much of his success to his ability to remain poised even in high-pressure situations. “On the starting line, I try to relax and remember my training to stay confident. This race was amazing for me because I felt so smooth. I was on my toes for most of the race,” he said.
Although people are quick to consider cross country an individual sport, Frasco also comments on the ways his teammate, Jones, has helped him through the season. “Gareth and I ran together really well. It is great to have him as a training partner. Gareth and I almost set personal bests in this race, which is something that we were not expecting. It was a great surprise to see that we are fit and ready to run fast,” he said.
While the men have clearly had strong performances on the season thus far, the women have been particularly dominant. Among 46 teams, the women tallied 201 points to place third in the 6K competition.
Second-year Khia Kurtenbach has been leading the charge for the Maroons, placing 13th this weekend in the field of 414 participants, with a time of 21:45. Kurtenbach, formerly a swimmer for the South Siders, is a newcomer to the cross country squad, and has certainly proved that she is just effective on land as she is in water. In addition to being Chicago’s top finisher this weekend, she also placed first overall in the Illinois Intercollegiate Competition two weeks ago, and fifth overall in the Wheaton Invite the weekend before. In the four meets she has competed in thus far, she has always been the Maroons’ top finisher.
Impressive upperclassman leadership has also made a significant contribution to the women’s success. Fourth-years Catherine Young and Brianna Hickey have provided consistent performances for the South Siders. This weekend, Hickey finished 26th overall at 22:04, followed by Young, who finished 48th overall at 22:31.
Next up for both the men’s and women’s teams is the UAA Championships, which will take place in Boston. “The entire team is motivated and ready to compete in Boston at the UAA championships,” Frasco said.
The meet will take place on Saturday, October 31, giving the Maroons two weeks with no meets. With a weekend off, hopefully Chicago will have plenty of time to recover and prepare, with the goal of bringing two UAA titles back to the South Side.