By Amelia Sniffin
Last Saturday, the Wheaton Women’s Cross Country team traveled to Rock Island, Ill. to compete in the 2019 CCIW Conference Championship. Despite remarkably cold temperatures, the Thunder took first place, capturing the program’s fourth straight conference title.
Heading into the meet, Wheaton was seeded third. Head Coach David Walford commented after the race, “Though I can’t control the other teams, what I am proudest of is not only the execution of our ladies’ race, but the passion in which they ran all the way through to the finish.”
The Thunder’s top five runners all finished in the top 20 overall. Seniors Aryn Embretson and Erika Johnson finished in third and fourth place, respectively, earning them First Team All-CCIW recognition.
Sophomore Kirsten Wikner, senior Hannah Oechsle and freshman Alyssa Mantia all earned Second Team AllCCIW recognition. “I couldn’t have finished the race today without Kirsten and Alyssa,” said Oechsle. “Having the presence of a teammate in a race provides so much energy and strength and makes the race about so much more than just your race. It’s a chance to race for your teammates.”
Mantia was named CCIW Freshman of the Year. Prior to coming to Wheaton in the fall, she had never run cross country. She finished in 15th place on Saturday with a time of 23:19.
“I’m thankful to have such a great team whose primary focus is to love God and secondary focus is to love each other,” Coach Walford said. “They have done that well, and that is what I am most proud of.”
On Nov. 7th, the Women’s Cross Country Team took first place at the North Central Red/ White Invite at St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville.
The Wheaton Men’s Cross Country team took second place at the 2019 CCIW Cross Country Championship on Saturday afternoon.
Senior Michael Larkin broke his own personal record by ten seconds, placing 9th with a time of 25:48 in the 8k race. Finishing in the top 10 earned Larkin First Team All-CCIW recognition.
“I hurt a lot and was in a lot of physical pain, but I pushed through because I wanted our team to finish well,” Larkin said.
Seniors Simon Peterson and Seth Massot finished in 17th and 13th place, respectively. Their finishes earned them both recognition as Second Team All-CCIW.
“It is always exciting and encouraging to be able to work together as a team to put out our best efforts and performances on any given day,” said Massot. “Today was the epitome of a team race greater than the mere sum of its parts. Today was a race for each other, for God and for the sake of the race.”