Bears Run a Solid Effort Before UAA’s

| Sports Reporter

Freshman Tarek Elhage leads freshman Justin Rodriguez in the Washington University Early Bird Meet

Freshman Tarek Elhage leads freshman Justin Rodriguez in the Washington University Early Bird Meet in which he placed 31st for his time. Elhage and Rodriguez both led the Washington University men this past Friday at the Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville Open, respectively placing 10th and 12th place overall.

One week before the University Athletic Association championships, the Washington University’s men’s and women’s cross country teams both finished in fourth place at the Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville Open.

Competing against Division I and II schools, both teams put up a very impressive performance considering each team’s top runners were out to prepare for next week’s championship race in New York.

“The meet was definitely a positive step forward and a part of building the momentum we want to carry into our championship races, which start next week with the conference meet,” said senior Kelli Blake, captain of the women’s team. “This was the last race of the season for people not running the championship races, and everyone ran really well.”

Leading the women’s team was freshman Gabrielle Reuveni, who finished 12th overall with a time of 23:59 on the 6-km. course. For the men’s team, freshman Tarek Elhage was the Bears’ top finisher in 10th place with a time of 27:08 and freshman Justin Rodriguez was right behind him with a time of 27:09.

“The meet was a great experience for some of our younger guys who are still transitioning from the 5K to the 8K, and for the underclass women who are transitioning from the 5K to the 6K,” said senior Dave Spandorfer, captain of the women’s team. “A lot of these people ran great and had their best race of the season.”

Head coach Jeff Stiles echoed Spandorfer’s enthusiasm.

“There were a lot of really good races, and a lot of people really stepped up. It was also really nice to see that a ton of kids came to watch,” Stiles said.

One of the bigger stories from the race did not come from the actual results, but from junior Kyle Cooper, who ran in a race for the first time in two years after dealing with several injuries that kept him from running all this season until now.

“Just the fact alone that he ran was very impressive to me,” Stiles said.

Both the men’s and women’s teams will now have all their energy focused on next week’s UAA Championships. The meet will take place on Saturday, Oct. 30, in Riverdale, N.Y., at Van Cortlandt Park, one of the most well-known cross country courses in the country. Spandorfer said that the entire team is anticipating the competition.

“Our team’s goal has always been to peak for conference, regionals and nationals. From day one, it’s been our priority to do our best at these meets. It’s what we’ve been training for since June and what we’ve been looking forward to all year,” Spandorfer said.

While Stiles says that both teams will be going to New York next week as underdogs, he expects both teams to do very well. “Both teams will be contending to win. We just want to go out there and execute our races as well as we can.”

UAA Championships begin on Saturday at 11 a.m. EDT.

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