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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Men’s and women’s cross country teams win MIAC Championships and prepare for regionals

<s been quite the year for Carleton Cross Country. This past weekend, both the men’s and women’s team won the MIAC Championships amid tough competition. This is the second time in as many years that both teams have won the MIAC championship, both successfully defending their titles. While these two teams might fly under the radar on campus, their competitors have taken notice, as both teams are emerging as the team to beat in MIAC play year in and year out. They both expected to be right in the mix to win the MIAC this year, and they followed through on their expectations. Both teams are now preparing for the NCAA Central Region and the Division III Championships that take place later this month.

Senior leader of the men’s team, Tris Dodge ’19, is extremely proud of the way his team has performed this fall. “We’ve done a great job so far,” he said. “We came in to the season with high expectations because of last year’s conference title and 10th place finish at the national meet. The men’s team generally prepared really well over the summer, with guys running the most mileage I’ve seen in my four years at Carleton. Early on in the season, we struggled with some injuries and failed to field a full squad at some of the earlier meets. But we didn’t read too much into those early results and focused on getting healthy, which people generally did a great job with. We had a great performance at the MIAC Championships and we hope to carry the momentum onward to regionals and nationals.”

Senior leader of the women’s team, Sam Schnirring ’19, also had high praise of how her team raced. “I am so, so proud of the team for how they performed this season,” she said. “We lost our two top runners from last year, but the team really didn’t let that affect our mindset going in. We ran really confidently all year, and it showed in our performances. We definitely surpassed any expectations set up for us, winning a repeat MIAC Championships and being ranked 6th in the nation at one point.” Not only did both teams race well during the MIAC Championships, but they ran well all season in preparation for success.

The men’s team had great runs in the MIAC Championships from Lucas Mueller ’21, Dodge, and Cameron Meikle ’20. Meikle in particular really stepped up his game, placing 3rd. When asked how he prepared for the MIAC Championships and the races previous, Meikle said, “The secret to running well is consistency. I was dealing with injuries over the summer but was able to work through it. However, during the season, I was able to string eight weeks of really good workouts in. Every workout felt better than the last, and I was able to put together a really good race. Our team did a fantastic job working out smartly. Often times, you can really push yourself to the point of exhaustion on every run. However, this isn’t very sustainable and isn’t good training. We really worked at running the correct paces and putting together smart workouts instead of these unsustainable workouts.” He was also proud of the way he ended up running at the MIAC Championships. Coming off of an injury, his focus was on the present. “I was injured in the spring and had a difficult time coming back. This race was the culmination of the time spent recovering from injury and making a slow recovery back. The race felt relaxed and ran pretty tactical for me. Throughout the race, I found myself focused and driven towards the team goal to win conference.”

Dodge mentioned that in preparation for the season, he and other senior leaders had each member of the team state what their goals for the season were. Throughout the fall, they would bring up the team goals and talk about the best ways to achieve them. “Before every race, we would get in a circle and impart final words of wisdom,” Dodge said. “We treated every race up to the MIAC championships as a learning experience and an opportunity to improve from the race before. We also tried to make training and the daily grind as fun as possible for everyone. Right before the MIAC championships, we reminded everyone of our goals, the training we had put in, and that this was our time to achieve our goals.” This mental preparation has paid off in the end and every runner has bought into the seniors’ leadership.

In the MIAC Championships, the women’s team was lead by Emma Greenlee ’21, Amanda Mosborg ’21, and Schnirring. Greenlee placed second, and paced the Knights. Their overall preparation was one thing Greenlee noted when talking about their success. “We have been consistently well prepared for meets this season, in both our physical training and mental preparation and reflection that goes into racing,” she said. “We have worked hard and accepted the challenges of all our workouts and that translates to strong performances in meets!” While the race was difficult, Greenlee thought she performed quite well in the MIAC Championships. “It was a hard race, but it was really good running with Amanda the whole way. Our pre-race warm up for MIACs was one of the best pre-race experiences I’ve had, and in general our team’s approach of looking at MIACs as a celebration of running made the meet a really positive experience. It was also awesome to have so many people there cheering,” she said. Schnirring added that some fun traditions allowed her team to stay relaxed and in the right mindset before the MIAC Championships. “We have a lot of fun traditions before the MIAC Championships—my favorite tradition is that we all write haikus the night before the race and read them to each other,” she said. “They’re always very sweet and funny. So there are fun things like that which we do to get into the right mindset. MIACs is really a celebration of running, so going into the race feeling prepared and confident, but also very excited and relaxed, is key.”

When running cross country, one must get used to long runs. But according to Dodge and Meikle, those long runs are extremely rewarding when the team is running together. “The daily grind was the most rewarding part of the season,” Dodge said. “It’s hard to justify running 85 miles per week if you’re not having fun with it. Each teammate contributes something wacky to make the whole experience worthwhile.” For Meikle, the fall runs were his favorite part of the season. “Long runs are definitely the best part of the fall,” he said. “You wake up early, get a little to eat and then head out for running 12 miles to 18 miles. They are a really good team bonding exercise and also relaxing. In the fall, the weather is perfect and often the runs are really fast. It makes you really appreciate running and your teammates.”

For Schnirring, the most rewarding part of the fall was the early morning runs with her teammates. “The most rewarding part of every season is getting to be with my teammates,” she said. “We practice at 6:45 in the morning, and so getting to see the sunrise each day with some of my closest friends, while doing something that we love to do, is deeply rewarding and makes everything else worth it. Winning MIACs was also very cool, however!”

Lastly, as both teams prepare for regionals and nationals this month, they agree that the best way to succeed moving forward into regionals and nationals is to simply repeat how they have been preparing on and off of the course. “Our team needs to just keep on doing what we are doing,” Meikle said. “We have been consistent with workouts and have been pretty good with the little things: stretching, eating healthy and getting sleep.”

Schnirring argues that starting the race well is what her team should focus on as they get ready for their next few races. “We mostly just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing; all the right pieces are in place,” she said. “Getting off the start line and into position right away will be key to performing well in the postseason, but we have practiced that. The real key is staying healthy and recognizing that we can run with anybody out there; that confidence will be what impacts our races.” Greenlee expressed some of the same sentiment as Meikle, insisting that her team must stay focused on the little things in order to achieve their overall goals. “If we keep working hard like we have all season, challenging ourselves at practice and in meets, supporting each other, and taking good care of ourselves, we can accomplish the goals we set out for ourselves like making it to Nationals and performing well there,” she said. With fantastic senior leadership, and many fast runners, both men’s and women’s cross country are primed for a successful finish to their fall season.

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