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February 22, 2024

Women's and men's cross country run to success at Iona Meet of Champions

By ERIC LYNCH | September 24, 2021



Senior Ella Baran was named Centennial Conference Cross Country Athlete of the Week after her performance at Iona.

This weekend, the men’s and women’s cross-country teams headed to New York City to compete in the Iona Meet of Champions. After both teams won the Hopkins Kickoff Invitational earlier in the month, they were looking to keep up their success in this event.

Senior Ella Baran discussed her experience competing this season in an interview with The News-Letter.

“I've missed out on a lot of seasons, which makes each opportunity to race with my teammates that much more special,“ she said. “I mostly feel thankful for my coaches and my teammates, and it's such an incredible experience racing with people I know, love and trust.”

The women’s 5-kilometer race saw nine complete teams and three incomplete teams competing against one another. 24 runners completed the race for Hopkins. Baran led the way, finishing in second place with a time of 18:21.5.

Sophomore Ashley Heidenrich came in second for the Blue Jays, finishing in sixth place overall with a time of 18:37.6. The third top-10 finisher was sophomore Paloma Hancock. Hancock came in 10th place with a time of 18:47.2. Junior Sara Stephenson followed in 13th, and graduate student Diana Vizza rounded out the Hopkins top five by placing 14th. 

Junior Sydney Friedel and senior Lina Spjut both placed in the top 25 in the race, but their scores did not contribute to the Jays’ point total because they were not in the team’s top five. This means seven of the top-25 runners were Hopkins students. Considering there were 115 runners in the entire race, this was an outstanding achievement.

The Blue Jays combined for a total of 45 points, earning them first place in the event. The second-place team, Quinnipiac University, had 67 points, and Monmouth University came in third place with 73 points.

Baran explained the feeling of winning the event.

“We actually started jumping up and down, hugging each other, when we saw the results,” she said. “We were very excited, to say the least. We had a goal-setting session during preseason, and one of the highlights of our discussion was to make every race count. I say we've done that so far, and the excitement for the rest of the season keeps building.”

The men’s 8-kilometer race had a total of 10 full teams competing and three incomplete teams for a total of 117 runners. Junior Matthew Kleiman was the top finisher for the Blue Jays, finishing in second overall but first in scoring. His time was 25:23.3.

Next was sophomore Jonas Larson, coming in 15th with a time of 26.25.4. Sophomore Gavin McElhennon was next in 17th with a time of 26:34.4. Junior Daniel Chen, in 22nd, and graduate student Joshua Derrick, in 24th, both finishing in under 27 minutes, rounded out the top five for Hopkins.

Graduate student Arthur Beyer and junior Ian Spears both finished in the top 30 as well. This left Hopkins with 79 points, earning second place at the event. Even the Blue Jays could not overcome Temple University, which had seven runners in the top 10. Other than Kleiman, only two other runners from other teams placed in the top 10. Temple finished with 23 points. Behind Hopkins, in third place, was Southern Connecticut State University with 82 points.

Overall, the day was a success for both teams, with the women earning first and the men earning second in their respective events. Incredible individual and team performances once again demonstrated the promise of the Hopkins cross-country program.

Baran emphasized her goals for the rest of the season.

“Creating the most positive, supportive and driven team culture is our greatest priority,” she said. “Everything else — rankings, placements and championships — will follow. We have high goals for championship season, but right now, we're taking each race as it comes.”

Both teams will take some time to practice before heading to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. and Louisville, Ky. for meets at the start of October.

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