This weekend marks one of the biggest games of the year for the Maroons, and such an occasion warrants a trip halfway across the country to Massachusetts for the UAA Championship at Brandeis. The Maroons’ weekend trip to Boston culminates on Saturday, when they will be matched against the seven other members of the conference, in a meet that will dictate which team takes home the conference title.
October has been a good month for the Maroons as they participated at the Illinois Intercollegiate Cross Country Championships in Bourbonnais, IL, the Lucian Rosa Invite in Kenosha, WI, and the AAE Invitational hosted by UW–Oshkosh. The men’s team finished fourth of 16 teams, sixth of 16 teams, and 14th of 45 teams, in each respective meet. Meanwhile, the women’s team took first of 16 teams, fourth of 16 teams, and third of 46 teams, respectively.
The UW–Oshkosh AAE Invitational was a great test for the team, and they performed relatively well, especially considering the 45-plus teams competing for both the men and women. Additionally, the past meets add a layer of experience: this weekend’s meet will feature several familiar faces from the AAE Invitational, including WashU and Emory.
Regarding the Maroon’s approach for this weekend, fourth-year Michael Frasco said, “The team is motivated to run fast this weekend. Competing against the teams in the UAA has a very personal feeling to it. We cherish the opportunity to assert athletic dominance over our somewhat comparable academic peers.”
Frasco is coming off a strong run at the UW–Oshkosh AAE Invitational where he led the team with a time of 25:04, good for 19th in the 8K. The team was also led by third-year Gareth Jones, in 29th with a time of 25:11, and third-year Timofey Karginov, who placed 86th overall with a time of 25:49. All will certainly be near the front of the pack at this weekend’s invite.
Of course, since this is one of the last meets of the season, it is a bittersweet time for many of the team’s fourth-years who want to close their career with individual and team conference champions. With this thought in mind, Frasco said, “Last year, I led 7990 meters of the race. I felt amazing. In the last ten meters, a runner from Carnegie surprised me and won the race. It was devastating. It still eats at me. I’m going to try my best not to let it happen again this year.”
When posed with a similar thought, fellow fourth-year Catherine Young said, “I’m just hoping I can support my team in the best way I can to set us up for the win. I think we have some strong leaders on this team that know exactly what we need to do in order to get this championship.”
With that sentiment in mind, the women’s team is prepared to make a strong attempt at winning the meet this year. The Maroons are led by second-year Khia Kurtenbach, and fourth-years Brianna Hickey and Young, who placed 13th, 26th, and 48th respectively at the Wisconsin-Oshkosh AAE Invitational.
Last year, the South Siders lost the title to WashU, but they won in 2013 and 2012. Young said, “We are definitely looking to win the conference meet this weekend. It will be super challenging as WashU has a great team this year and is currently ranked fifth in the nation. I think if we go into the race with a confident mentality, we can compete against WashU for the championship spot.”
The women’s race is at 11 a.m. and the men’s race is at 12 p.m. at Franklin Park near Brandeis’s campus.