Luke Siegle – Staff Writer
The Gustavus men’s and women’s cross country teams competed in the conference meet last Saturday, Oct. 30. Both teams finished with top-five performances, the men finished in fourth while the women took third to round out the MIAC season. “Conference was a meet unlike any other as far as the atmosphere. The level of support was a head above the rest,” First-year Tyler Smith said. As the season comes down to the wire, the conference meet marked the last event of the season with all the runners on the team running together due to the remaining 8 spots per team on the regional roster. Knowing this was it, both teams left everything out on the course.
Senior Andrew Stumbo once again led the way for the Gustie men with an 8k time of 25:46.0 which was good for a 12th place finish. Senior Garet Grant also had a strong performance and finished right behind Stumbo with a time of 25:46.4. Both Stumbo and Grant earned All-MIAC for their outstanding seasons. Finishing in 20th place was Junior Henry Hinchcliffe who ran a personal record of 26:08.9. He was followed by Senior Casey Olson who clocked in at 26:16.6, good for a 24th place finish overall. Hinchcliffe and Olson both were named All-Conference Honorable Mentions for their efforts. A pair of Seniors followed with 29th and 31st place finishes. Bryce Knutson finished in 26:30.8 and Matt Payne in 26:33.0. Rounding out the top seven was First-year Tyler Smith who finished in 46th place with a time of 26:57.9.
“Team wise we were a little disappointed about how we did. We went into the season wanting to win the conference meet and we got fourth which wasn’t what we were hoping for, but I think all of us were proud of everyone’s efforts,” Hinchcliffe said. However, the chance to run with the entire team for one last time was something the runners will never forget. “It has been an absolute treat and pleasure and even though conference wasn’t exactly what we wanted, it was still a really fun atmosphere,” Hinchcliffe said. Although it didn’t go the Gusties way, the runners were proud of the way they raced. “We put it all out there and we did what we could, and it just wasn’t our day,” Smith said.
The Gustie women finished on a strong note with a third place finish in the conference meet. Senior Elizabeth Donnelly raced through the course with a 6k time of 23:21.7 which gave her a top 10 finish. Sophomore Evelyn Villalobos followed with a 23:28.1 time, placing her at 15th. Senior Mackinzee Miest placed third for the Gusties and 19th overall with a time of 23:43.5. In 26th and 27th place was Senior Iliana Ramon and Junior Julia Severson. Ramon ran a 24.14.0 while Severson was close behind with a time of 24:14.4. Senior Lily Engebretson completed the course in 24:18.9 which gave her a 29th place finish. Rounding out the top seven was First-year Aubrey Mair who placed 58th overall with a time of 25:13.1. Donnelly and Villalobos were awarded All-Conference for their performances. In addition, Miest secured an All-Conference Honorable Mention for her great run.
All in all it was an excellent way to end the season for the women. “Since it’s the last thing you do as a team, everyone is there to see how far they’ve come the entire season. So it’s just really exciting,” Villalobos said. “I’m so grateful to be on a team like this. I couldn’t imagine doing this with any other team,” Donnelly said. As the season comes to a close, the women are excited for the last meet, but also sad that their journey for this year is almost complete. “It’s a really fun group of people to be around. I’m not ready for the season to be over,” Villalobos said.
With the conference meet in the books, it means both the men’s and women’s teams will look ahead to the regional meet. The goal is pretty simple for both the men and women, “The mindset is to go in and have fun with my teammates for one last race this year. Seeing how well we can do and trying to pull off a couple of upsets in the process,” Hinchcliffe said. The regional cross country meet will take place on Nov. 13th at 11 a.m. for the men and at 12 p.m. for the women at Eau-Claire.