The Women’s Cross Country team has had an extremely strong beginning season, finishing in first place as a team in three out of the five meets they’ve raced. Led by captain Shoshana Kruskal ’14, the Lyons are a tight-knit team who find success by pushing each other to be the best they can be. Kruskal, who began running cross country in middle school, found her true passion for the sport when she arrived at Wheaton. She notes that a “big part of why [she] started to be so passionate about [the sport] was the upperclassmen on the team in [her] first two years. They were the ones who really showed [her] what the sport of cross-country was about and what role the team plays in supporting that.”
As physically demanding a sport as cross country can be, it is extremely important to have such a close group to help each other through the trials of distance running.
Although superficially, cross country may seem like an individual sport, Kruskal says that there’s much more to it than what is at the surface.
“I think the thing about running that has really drawn me in is that it is at once a personal and team sport. We all work together as a team to help push each other and achieve success as a group, but each individual also goes out on the course and can track their own personal progress through the season. It’s great to be able to look at times and see reflected in them clear evidence of the work you put in.”
Kruskal also acknowledges the important role of her coach, Kim Spence ’04. Focusing on the balance she places between pushing all team members toward their fullest potential, while supporting them and knowing not to push too hard, Kruskal knows that Coach Spence has found the keys to success.
“Even when I think I’ve done my best, Coach never lets me settle and pushes me even further, elevating me to new levels as a competitor…Coach Spence has made me into a better runner and a better leader of the team, and I am thrilled to have had this opportunity to work with her more closely this season,” said Kruskal.
Kruskal also spoke about how much she appreciates how close her team is. In such a physically demanding sport, it is important to be able to find support in the people with whom you are training. Shoshana finds that the team strikes a great balance between hard work and keeping it loose. She notes that as a team, “we know when it’s crunch time and we’re serious when it comes to races and workouts, but we’re also able to joke with each other and have fun at practice.”
Building off of such a great start to the season, Shoshana knows that the work is not yet done. In fact, things are just beginning to ramp up as the team moves into the champion portion of the season. The NEWMAC Championships are just around the corner on Nov. 3. Last year, the Lyons placed 4th, which was a remarkable jump from the 10th place finish the year before.
Kruskal looks forward to seeing how her team steps up as a whole in this high-pressure race.
“NEWMACs is looking to be a close race, so it’ll truly be a situation where every runner counts.”
Keep an eye out for results on the Women’s Cross Country Team’s exciting culmination to their season over the next few weeks. While Shoshana is incredibly excited for the championship races ahead, she reminds us that “none of us can do this alone, so our whole team really has the chance to race hard and be a part of something big.”