The men’s and women’s cross country squads displayed their dominance yet again this past weekend at the Illinois Intercollegiate meet at the Aspen Ridge Golf Course, hosted by Olivet Nazarene University.
On the women’s side, the Maroons clinched the top spot in the field of 13 teams, topping the podium with 290 points at the conclusion of the 5K race. Third-year Khia Kurtenbach grabbed second place among 140 athletes with a time of 18:27.2. Not far behind her, third-year Kelsey Dunn and fourth-year Michelle Dobbs came in to grab fourth and fifth place respectively with times of 18:59.2 and 19:59.9. Third-year Cassidy McPherson nabbed eighth while fourth-year Minnie Horvath snatched 10th, decisively rounding out the top 10 finishes for the Maroons.
This victory marked the fourth straight win for the South Siders, bringing a very successful month of September to a close.
On the team’s great success so far, Dobbs said, “I think the team’s success so far has come from a strong commitment to training together and training smart. Being able to stay healthy and fit is why this team can consistently place several people at the top of these early season races.”
On the men’s side, Chicago took fourth place in the same field of 13 teams; however, the men raced on an 8K course and fielded 216 athletes. Host Olivet Nazarene finished at the top of the podium on the men’s side. Third-year Peter Kreuch led the way for the South Siders, finishing 10th overall at 26:42.3. First-year Tim Koenning came in at 12th with a time of 26:45.0, trailed by fourth-year Nick Nielsen in 13th with a time of 26:46.0.
The squad started the year by winning their first two meets but has finished third and fourth in the past two meets. Kreuch, however, is undaunted by what seems like a drop in performance. “This past week, I was most proud of our 7.7 second spread from finishers 1–4,” he said. “That metric is a great indicator of future success and proof that our ‘pack running strategy’ is being well executed. Individually, this race was a good breakthrough, and I’m excited for the meets to come.”
It seems that both squads have a lot to look forward to for the rest of the season. They will head to Kenosha, WI this weekend for the Lucian Rose Invitational. The women will look to continue their four-meet win streak, and Dobbs is certainly looking forward to any additional competition. “The team is looking forward to getting into some deeper fields with more challenging competition,” Dobbs said. “While this will ultimately be a great step in the right direction for acclimating to competition, making sure to continue to run together in more crowded races can be a bit of an adjustment.”
The men are also looking forward to the remainder of the season, but they aren’t just basing their definition of success on wins and losses. “I’m thrilled with how we’ve progressed as a group over the past few weeks,” Kreuch said. “We have tons of depth at the freshman level, a strong pack supporting our No. 1 runner, and a close-knit group of guys.”
If both squads are able to put together a solid meet, Chicago will be a force to be reckoned with at the end of the year.