Cross Country season is back and relocated to Haas Athletic Center! And yes, the team now practices out of Wheaton’s main athletic center as opposed to the Clark Center, just one among many changes in the 2014 season. Currently, both the men’s and women’s teams are preparing for their third meet of the season, the Purple Valley Classic, hosted by Williams College. If you have not seen them in the woods, on the roads, or around the turf field, then I doubt you will see them unless you are willing to trek to a meet.
The pre-season and early season has been a busy and exciting time for the team. Head Coach Kim Spence ’04 and assistant coach, Karl Mader ’12, have recruited eight new male freshmen runners and two new female harriers. This is the main reason why they have relocated to accommodate the team size. However, only a month into the season, the results on the course have been remarkable. The first meet, the Fens Classic hosted by Emmanuel College, saw the men finish sixth out of eight while the women repeated as champions. The second meet, and first full 8k and 5k for the men and women, respectively, saw the men claim fourth as a team while the women took second. As for the Purple Valley Classic, both squads are using this meet as a chance to preview the New England Regional course, due to the fact that Williams will be also hosting the regional meet on the same course at Mount Greylock High School. While racing is the primary focus, it is an opportunity for the men and women to get an early feel for a championship type atmosphere with a multitude of schools competing.
Both teams are not only making an impact running but also landscaping the Wheaton Woods. The previously overgrown trails are being groomed into a course for racing, walking, and any other leisurely activity. Both teams and the athletic administration are hoping that the trails will be race ready by the 2015-16 academic years, though parts are currently cleared. This initiative has been a project for the cross country team, which began during preseason this past summer. The men and women have been spending chunks of time helping to clear pathways for the public and themselves. Those not familiar with the trails should look behind Beard Field House and around the Diane Nordin ’80 Athletic Field. The runners may be hard to find but the team is certainly out there training hard for every competition.