Story by Sam Bell, The Saint Reporter
Photo Courtesy of Andris Visockis
The Aquinas Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams are winding down on what has proven to be a pretty successful season thus far, and hope to be saving the best for last. Having already ran in seven meets, they are down to their last and most important race: the NAIA National Championship on November 21. The Men won their fifth consecutive WHAC Conference title while the Women won their second.
The men’s team has shown improvement from each meet, having taken first and third place respectively in their last two races. In the Jayhawk Invitational that took place on October 16, the men were led by senior Nick Whise, who placed eleventh with a time of 26:17.93, followed by first-year Tristan Rudolph who ran a time of 26:42.25. In their race on October 24, the squad was led by senior Jeff Cherry, who ran a time of 26:01.46 and placed eighth.
“It has been a fun team to be a part of this year,” Whise said. “It is awesome to see how quickly the freshmen and transfers bought into Woj’s system and our team.”
Coach Wojciakowski brought in a lot of young talent this season, and it has really paid off for the team. Some noticeable new faces to the team include Michael Gorman, Tristan Rudolph, and Alex Hoop, among many others.
“It’s great to be able to run and improve with such a talented and driven group of guys,” Hoop said. “The teams a family and I’ve enjoyed every moment of college cross so far.”
As for the women’s team, they have been dominating the NAIA national rankings all season, and are currently tied for second. The team brought back a host of returning students, as well as plenty of speedy newcomers.
“We really love the new girls,” sophomore Adri Sigafoose stated. “They each bring something unique to the team and have been fitting in great. Two of our newcomers [Alexis Miller and Melissa Winchester] have consistently been in the the top five in scoring for the team.”
The Lady Saints have had a lot of success in their first six meets, placing first in three of them and second in two. They have been led by a variety of ladies, including sophomore Molly Peregrine, Sigafoose, Miller and Winchester. Although they have had a terrific season thus far, they are far from being done.
“Our goal is simple,” started Miller. “‘One Team One Dream’ has been a saying that has been our team motto this year. We are working together as a unified team. No runner is better than another. We all put in the work toward the dream, and the dream is to win nationals.”
Make sure to stop and tell both teams good luck as they prepare for the National Championships.