Emma Esteb – Staff Writer
The Gustavus men’s and women’s cross country teams competed at the Hamline Invitational this past Friday September 9. Both the men’s and women’s teams took home third place, with the men competing against six other teams and the women competing against ten other teams. It was a very close race between Gustavus and Macalster for the men’s with Macalster taking second place by only two points.
The teams competed in the 6K race for the women and the 8K race for the men. “The race definitely went out really fast, our plan was supposed to be tempo the first 4K, which means don’t go out super hard the first 4K so we can have the last 2K to go hard. But, because the race went out so hard I don’t think anyone really followed that plan, because we all just went with it,” Junior Evelyn Villalobos said. The team’s methods were successful, as Villalobos led the Gustavus women taking fifth place with a time of 22:30.88, only 2:19.6 seconds behind first place. First-year Molly Liston finished next for the Gusties, taking home 14th with a time of 23:13.07. The next pack of Gustie ladies including Sophomore Sydney Hagen, Sophomore Kailyn Walukas, and Senior Molly Weberg finished 26th, 30th, and 31st.
Leading the Gustie men was Senior Tucker Wallin who took seventh with a time of 25:43.71, placing him in the top ten in the conference.
“The energy around the team was something that stuck out to me. We were enjoying the moment and just having fun being together,” Wallin said. Close behind, Senior Henry Hinchcliffe finished 11th with a time of 26:10.36 and Sophomore Tyler Smith finished 12th with a time of 26:16.22. Rounding out the top 20, Junior Logan McCullough finished 18th with a time of 26:30.54.
“We were all pretty happy with how we did, almost everybody had a PR for the 8K, which doesn’t always happen for the first one of the year,” McCullough said. The weather conditions were prime for running, slightly cool and rainy which contributed to the success of the team. This meet was a very good MIAC preview race as the Gusties faced Carleton, Saint John’s/Saint Benedict’s, Macalester, Hamline, Martin Luther, Saint Mary’s, North Central, Saint Catherine’s, and Augsburg.
The Gustavus men’s and women’s cross country teams have many things to look forward to this season as they have been starting out strong at the beginning of the year. Villibosos said she is most excited about “working with the group of girls to get better and it is always so fun to continue to see everyone improve.” Both teams have high expectations and big shoes to fill after the men’s eighth place finish and the women’s ninth place finish at the NCAA Regional Championships. “(I) learned a lot over the last few seasons and (I) am relishing the opportunity to put everything together to have the best season yet,” Wallin said.
The team should not be overlooked this season as they are already showing positive strides towards doing well at the conference meet.
“Last year was kind of our best team competitively especially with our last year’s seniors and the two super seniors where we had our best shot of doing well at conference but I don’t think we are completely out of placing really well at conference just because we performed really well at this course which is where conference is going to be,” McCullough said. The course contained many hills which put the Gusties at an advantage since they are used to running all the hills here on campus.
The tight knit group of runners this year definitely shows as all members are extremely supportive of each other on and off the course. Cross country as a sport is so focused on times and beating previous records, and with all of the Gusties getting a new PR, this weekend proved to be very successful. Sophomore Jonah Kalsnes said he is “looking forward to postseason, conference, and just making a push as a team at regions and trying to see how we stack up against the rest of the MIAC teams and then our region also.”
The cross country season is looking bright for the Gusties as they head to the Saint Olaf Invite next weekend on September 17.