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May 30, 2024

Women's and men's cross country show out at Centennial Conference championships

By ERIC LYNCH | November 3, 2021

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COURTESY OF HOPKINSSPORTS.COM

The women’s cross country team has now qualified for 13 straight Centennial Conference championships.

The Centennial Conference championships provide many Hopkins teams an opportunity to compete at a high level before heading off to the NCAA Championships. For the men’s and women’s cross-country teams, that opportunity came this past weekend.

For the women, the team found themselves up against the other nine Centennial teams in the 6-kilometer race. Over 90 runners competed, 12 of whom were Blue Jays. As usual, the top-five runners on each team are used to calculate each team’s score. 

In terms of individual runners’ placements, the first-place time went to the Dickinson College Red Devils, who had a senior runner finish in a time of 21:48.5. Haverford College had a runner who earned second place only a few seconds later. But after those two, the Blue Jays started pouring in.

Third, fourth, fifth and sixth place all belonged to Hopkins runners. First among them was sophomore Ashley Heidenrich with a time of 22:00.8. One second behind her was senior Alex Ross. After Ross, there was a significant gap until the runner came through the line. Only four runners came in faster than 22:30, and Hopkins had two of them. 

In an interview with The News-Letter, Ross discussed her individual performance in the race and this season. 

“Good races are always really exciting, and at championship races, they mean that much more because I'm able to contribute to our team's success as well,” she said. “I actually had to sit out for a portion of this season, and over the past few weeks I've been surprised with how well I've been able to bounce back.”

She explained how she hopes to use this weekend’s success as momentum for the rest of the season. 

“Racing well on Saturday means a lot going forward because I'm really able to put faith in the training I've done earlier in this season and year,“ Ross said. “Most of all, this past weekend has gotten me excited for what's to come and the individual and team successes we're all hoping to see in the upcoming races.”

Leading the next wave of runners, over 30 seconds behind Ross, was sophomore Paloma Hancock, earning fifth place with a time of 22:34.8. Senior Catalina Spjut finished behind her with a time of 22:36.2. Hopkins had already secured four great finishes, but they needed one more finish to round out their five scoring runners. 

Seventh place belonged to another Dickinson runner, but as usual, Hopkins was not far behind. Junior Sara Stephenson came in eighth place with a time of 22:38.3. The rest of the Blue Jays’ runners finished well, though they did not score. Despite there being 93 finishing runners, no Hopkins runner finished below 32nd place. 

With a top five of third, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth, Hopkins had finished with a score of 26 points, earning them a first-place team finish. Dickinson, who had the first-place runner, finished second with 64 points. The Jays’ 38-point margin of victory bodes well for their chances at the NCAA Championships in November.

Ross expressed her pride in the team’s continued success.

“This year, we got the chance to race as an entire team on our home course and to defend our title. After last year's season being canceled, it's so great to be able to see success again as a team,“ she said. “One of our goals going into the conference meet was to be able to have as many Hopkins athletes running near the front of the race as possible.”

The men’s side faced off against eight other Centennial schools in the 8-kilometer race. This race featured 103 finishing runners, 12 of which, again, were from Hopkins. Coincidentally, this race featured the same top three, in order, as the women’s race: Dickinson followed by Haverford and then Hopkins. The first-place runner had a time of 25:22.0. 

Junior Matthew Kleiman led the Blue Jays in third place with a time of 25:45.3. Unfortunately, the rest of the finishes did not follow the women’s order. Freshman Thomas Li came in next for the Blue Jays in sixth place with a time of 25:59.9. Sophomore Gavin McElhennon earned 10th place in 26:13.3. 

Rounding out the Blue Jays top five were senior Tyler Amos, in 12th with a time of 26:25.9., and sophomore Charles Teeter, in 14th with a time of 26:29.2. The Blue Jays finished solidly, with finishers spread out evenly along the top-15 runners. Like the women’s team, no runner finished lower than 32nd place. 

With this top five, the Blue Jays earned 45 points. Unfortunately, this fell just short of first-place Haverford, who earned 37 points. Still, a second-place finish is promising, especially because they finished almost 40 points ahead of the third-place Dickinson. As the NCAA Championships approach, the men will certainly be looking to fine-tune their performance. 

Both teams will head to the regional NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals in Newville, Pa. on Nov. 13 and then the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Ky. on Nov. 20.


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