Cross country blazes through UAA championships

The Washington University women’s cross country team continues to sit atop the UAA, placing second this weekend at the 2008 University Athletic Association Championships while the men placed seventh. Emory University hosted the meet Saturday at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Ga.

In a season full of injuries and adversity, the No. 18 women’s team captured second place with the help of sophomore Taryn Surtees, who took the 2008 individual title. Surtees, who ran in second for most of the race, finished strongly with a time of 21:37.22, winning by over 15 seconds.

The women placed second only behind No. 6 Case Western University. Emory, the University of Chicago and the University of Rochester rounded out the top five. Other top runners and impressive performances for the Bears came from Elizabeth Phillips, Erica Jackey, Angela Hartman, Hope Rathnam and Molly Schlamb, placing ninth, 10th, 12th 20th and 24th respectively.

“The biggest excitement was finishing four points behind Case Western. They’re ranked sixth, and we’re ranked 18th. So to be that close in point total is really exciting,” Surtees said.

There was only a slim margin of 38 seconds between Phillips and Schlamb.

The men captured the seventh spot, outscoring only the University of Rochester. New York University won the UAA title.

Despite a disappointing finish, the men’s team had five runners who all finished within 12 spots of each other. Senior Nick Silverman, freshman Tucker Hartley, junior Alex Bearden, sophomore Dave Spandorfer and junior Matt Kruger placed 33rd, 36th, 27th, 39th and 45th place respectively.

“The men’s meet wasn’t a disaster, but it was nowhere near where we want to or need to be right now. We finished seventh out of eight, in perhaps the best conference in DIII, so [it was] not as bad as it looks, but our hope was to finish fourth,” freshman Tucker Hartley said. “Right now, we are doing everything we can to be prepared for the Midwest Regionals. Our recent increase in training intensity is only just beginning to take effect, and the next week will be vitally important. To qualify will not take a drastic change in training; we just have to work as hard as we are able, trust in our fitness and run to our maximum capability on November 15.”

The cross country teams will compete again in two weeks, with the women looking to defend their three straight NCAA Midwest regional titles at the 2008 NCAA Midwest Region Championships on Saturday November, 15 in Rock Island Ill.

“[The women’s team] had a really good performance, and it’s really encouraging [that] we’re in a lot better place now than before. We had a freshman place in the top ten and ran a personal record, and that’s all a step in the right direction,” Surtees added.

“We’re not thinking about what injured people could’ve helped us,” senior Nick Silverman said. “We’re racing with the team we have.”