Bears run well at Division III Regional Championships
The Washington University men’s and women’s cross country teams both put on solid performances on Saturday at the NCAA Division III Midwest Regional Championships in Rock Island, IL.
Both teams persevered through the cold weather, with the men’s team finishing fourth and the women’s team finishing second.
On the girls’ side, junior Liz Phillips came in sixth overall out of 263 runners with a time of 21:42. The team was only outmatched by defending national champion University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, who defeated the Bears by eight points.
For the men, senior co-captain Dave Spandorfer and junior Michael Burnstein led the Bears with 11th and 12th place finishes respectively in the 275 runner field. The team could not keep up with North Central College, however, who dominated the race, winning by 49 points. The Bears also fell to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
“It was a good day, but not a great day for the team,” Spandorfer said. “But knowing that we have a lot more in us bodes well for nationals next Saturday.”
“The goal was to qualify for nationals, and we are happy we did that…we have an opportunity to run better next week and that’s really what the season will be judged on,” Burnstein added.
Despite not performing as well as they hoped, the team still found many positives in the day. Three women, senior Taryn Surtees, senior Jessica Londreree and freshman Sarah Fisher each earned NCAA Midwest Regional Honors.
On the men’s side, sophomore David Hamm and junior Tucker Hartley, in addition to Spandorfer and Burnstein, all made the NCAA All-Region team. According to Spandorfer, fan support made a difference in motivating the team on Saturday.
“We really do have the best fans in the world,” he said. “On a pretty cold day, most stripped down, covered themselves in body paint and cheered their guts out, pushing all of us forward. That couldn’t have been more motivating.”
Now, both teams are gearing up for NCAA Championships, which will be held Saturday, Nov. 20, at the H.J. Max Championship Course in Waverly, Iowa. The men’s 8K race will start at 11 a.m. while the women’s 6K course will start at 12 p.m. Last year, the women’s team finished tenth while the men’s team came in seventh.
“Our goal since June has been, ‘how high can we finish at nationals’,” Spandorfer said. “There are a lot of great teams out there, and we’re now focused on racing the best.”
This coming championship meet will mark the seventh consecutive year that the women’s team has qualified to compete while the men’s team will be competing for the second consecutive year.