The rain fell hard, the wind blew heavily and the trail became more mud than grass. The cross country teams trudged through, but were not pleased with the weather or their results.
The men’s cross country team placed 11th at the Atlantic Ten Conference Championships Saturday at Belmont Plateau, recording a program best. The women’s team placed 13th, the same place they have finished the last two seasons. La Salle won both team titles behind seniors Rachel Papin and David Alfano, who each placed second in their respective races.
“It didn’t go as well as it should have today,” coach Matt Jelley said. “With such a young team, we don’t have the experience as some of the others, but we are improving with every race.”
Freshman Charles Goold finished the 8k race atop the men’s team, placing 53rd among the 144 runners with a time of 27:21.
“The weather had everything to do with our bad times today,” Goold said. “It was a battle the entire time. The rain makes it near impossible to see and the mud was so slippery, keeping your footing was tough.”
Goold said that after a great week of practice, he thought the Owls were going to put up better times.
“I wasn’t happy with my personal time despite finishing first on my team,” Goold said. “I wanted to finish under 25 minutes, but didn’t.”
Junior captain Adin Mickle placed 77th, far from his goal of the top 10.
I guess I was nervous,” Mickle said. “I was mentally ready for the rain, but not for the mud. It was so slippery out there.”
As for the team’s performance, Mickle said, “Not everyone preformed the way I know they could. But I guess it’s easy to find an excuse on a day like today.”
On the women’s side, freshman Rebecca Mims finished the 5k race 71st among 136 runners with a time of 20:56. Junior transfer Marissa Murtaugh crossed the line two seconds later to earn 74th place.
“The weather hurt us mentally and may have hurt our times a little, but we can always improve,” Murtaugh said.
When asked how she prepares for this weather, Murtaugh smiled and said, “Bring extra dry clothes.”
Stefanie Scalessa, director of track and field, said the weather shouldn’t have been an issue and isn’t an excuse for the poor outing.
“I think we got nervous,” Scalessa said. “We have more in us than we showed, especially on the men’s side, and we should have done better.”
Despite Saturday’s outcome, Goold is thinking positive about the future.
“If we stick with coach Jelley we will do well, it’s that simple,” Goold said.
The Owls head to the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals on Nov. 10 in Bethlehem, Pa.
Todd Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org