Emerson XC pops off at Pop Crowell

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Emerson Women’s Cross Country (Courtesy: Emerson XC)

By Jason Tulchin, Deputy Sports Editor

It was a day of top placements and broken personal records at the Pop Crowell Invitational this past Saturday at Gordon College for the Emerson men’s and women’s cross country teams, both of whom placed sixth in the competition. 

The men combined an overall time of 2:30.28 with an average 8K of 30:05, while the women’s team pulled together with an overall 6K time of 2:23.06, averaging 28:43 for each runner. Senior captain Oliver Glass shattered his previous 8K record of 27:56 with a lightning-quick 27:40.07.

“It was one of the best races I’ve run in my college career,” Glass said. “It was a good feeling following that race.”

Coming in second-fastest on the men’s team was junior Sam Cahill, who ran a 29:49.06. First-year John Lanza ranked among the Lions’ top men’s runners, with an impressive first-ever 8K time of 29:58.03. Sophomore Joe Norris finished a mere second behind with a time of 29:59.02. 

Emerson cross country Head Coach Brandon Fox saw Lanza and fellow first-year runner Niko Wahl’s first time running the five miles as a solid start to the season.

“It was a great first step for us,” Fox said. “Especially when that adjustment can take a little bit of time, not necessarily [just] from a strength and conditioning aspect, but also a mental aspect.”

The women’s team had a top performance from the prodigious sophomore Sam Zannotti, who ran a 24:20.08 and placed fifth in the 6K race. Not far behind was first-year Olivia Kardos, who placed in 10th and ran 24:56.01, which was also a personal record for her. 

These top-10 finishes were the first of the season for Zannotti,—who is also a utility player on the women’s softball team—is just now starting to run for Emerson after suffering an injury last season.

“[Zannotti] does everything you could ask for and more,” Fox said. “We’re doing thresholds, seeing how fast we can get her to go. We have a benchmark for 25 minutes for the 6K, which is the women’s [NEWMAC] championship distance.”

Senior captain Paige Thimmesch also commended their teammates’ performances.

“It shocked me,” Thimmesch said, “but it didn’t surprise me.”

Weather and terrain also made for the perfect mix to ensure the Lions’ success.

“It was beautiful, sunny, and around 65 degrees out,” Thimmesch said. “As a runner, especially outdoors, always has an impact on how you play [..] it was definitely in our favor.”

The Lions’ next meet will be at the Runnin’ Monks Invitational at Saint Joseph’s College on Oct. 8. Glass said the team will spend the three weeks preparing for the hilly terrain of the Monks’ course in Standish, ME.

“We’re definitely doing a lot of hills,” Glass said. “So that’s one big thing, [as well as] keeping our mileage high early in the season.”

The long break between meets, according to Glass, is an opportunity to put work early to allot the runners time for recovery before the championship meets—a strategy that Fox put into plan.

“We’re going to be doing a lot of fine-tuning to increase the intensity of our interval workouts,” Fox said. 

Between first-years and sophomores recovering from injuries, Fox plans on testing the threshold of the new athletes and seeing where their comfort zones lie. If the Pop Crowell Invitational was an indication, the young Lions and Lionesses hold plenty of promise.

“There’s a lot of positivity, and we’re enjoying it so far […] I’m excited for this particular group.”