As the fall part of their season has come to a close, the men’s and women’s cross-country teams leave a fall season full of success behind them.
The Crossroads League had their championship meet on Friday, Nov 6, meaning that the fall portion of their season has come to an end. During the Crossroads League Championships, both Taylor teams put forth a strong effort and both meets were extremely competitive.
Despite being without one of their top runners, the women’s team still managed to edge out third-ranked Huntington by a margin of three points. Senior Sarah Harden was the top finisher for Taylor, placing third overall while senior Livy Schroder also raced well, placing sixth overall. As a whole, the women’s team placed five runners in the top fifteen.
This is the eighth consecutive league title for the women’s team, continuing an impressive streak of dominance over the conference. Head Coach Quinn White was nominated as Coach of the Year for the conference and seniors Livy Schroder, Sarah Harden and Katelynn Hanback, as well as juniors Corinne O’Leary and Giovanna Domene, all earned All-Crossroads League Team spots.
The men’s team put up a strong effort as well, but didn’t experience as satisfying of an outcome.
Despite placing three runners in the top five, the Taylor men’s team suffered a narrow defeat. They lost out to Huntington by a mere nine points, finishing second overall. The three Taylor runners who placed in the top five were seniors Daniel Gerber and Luke Rovenstine, as well as junior Alex Helmuth, which earned each of them All-Crossroads League Team honors.
Despite a disappointing finish, the team still managed to come away with some positive takeaways afterwards.
“Being able to only lose by 10 points, and still have not the ideal day brings a little bit more confidence in us,” Helmuth said. “We didn't have the best day but we barely lost to them.”
Even though it wasn’t a fully satisfying ending for the men’s team, both the men’s and women’s teams had very successful seasons.
The women’s team continued the success and dominance that they pursue year in and year out. As a team, they hardly missed a step throughout the entire season.
Out of the five meets that they have been a part of this season, including the championship, Taylor finished in first place at four out of five of them. In every single meet, they had at least one person finish within the top five and at least two in the top ten.
“It’s the best the team has ever looked,” senior Sarah Harden said. “I think that says a lot about the people on the team and the dedication that we have to the team and each other because even during the summer in the spring when we are apart we were still committed fully to our purpose.”
On an individual level, many of the girls had great seasons. Many of the girls set personal records for themselves this year. Sarah Harden broke the school record for the fastest women’s 5k not only once, but twice this season.
The men’s team also experienced a lot of success this season. They won two of their meets and routinely had at least one runner finish in the top five and multiple in the top ten.
Perhaps the most impressive feat between the two teams was that together they made history for Taylor University athletics.They are the first men’s and women’s teams of a sport to each rank first nationally at the same time.
“We all know it's about the final outcome at the end of the season, but it's also exciting,” Coach White said. “I think it shows a lot of respect to our program.”
The achievement is a big one for a program that continues to rise at Taylor despite the constant stress presented by the threat of coronavirus.
For the most part, the Trojans have been able to persevere through this pandemic season with few troubles. Unlike a lot of other colleges, the Taylor cross-country teams didn’t have to cancel the season or even miss any meets. Despite a few quarantines and some schedule adjustments, they have still managed to thrive during this hectic season.
The level of performance this season is something that Coach White believes is the standard for this team. He believes in the ability of both teams to perform at a high level each season.
“At this point we're always trying to shoot for a podium position at nationals, which is top four,” said Coach White. “It is an expectation that we're a nationally ranked team but at this stage, I'd say definitely a top 10 team.”
Even though the teams have both enjoyed strong seasons, neither one is done yet. Both teams are getting ready to enter a long winter of training before nationals come in April.