UWL Cross Country teams perform at nationals


Photo retrieved from the UWL athletics page.

Jack O'Donnell, Sports Reporter

On Nov. 20, both the men’s and women’s cross-country teams competed at the national meet held at Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Kentucky. The men, making their 34th appearance at nationals, placed 10th marking the 32nd time they finished within the top ten. The women, in their 35th appearance, placed 11th. Ethan Gregg achieved All-American which is awarded to the top 40 individuals in the race. 

“It was a fun day, fun experience, and overall good to be with the buds,” said junior All-American Ethan Gregg speaking on his second national experience. “Still the same jitters but at the end of the day it was just another race,” he said. Gregg was the only member on the men’s side who had previously run at nationals. “I was genuinely surprised at how fun the trip to Louisville was,” said Senior Ethan Thompson. “I was intimidated because it was my first nationals and definitely had a bunch of nerves,” he continues. 

 “There were definitely positives to take from the trip as a whole, even if we didn’t get the result we wanted,” said junior Maddie Hannan on the girl’s side of the trip. “Even if it was the last race of the season, it was still a good team bonding experience,”. The women are graduating three runners from the national team, and to have four returners next year to get that feeling of running in a national meet will be great to have.  

“The vast majority of people can say that we put it all out there, men and women,” said Hannan speaking on how she felt the race went. The goal wasn’t to get 10th and 11th but to know everyone gave their best effort you cannot complain about it. “I feel like everyone gave it their all and sometimes the pieces don’t line up, not everyone can have their best day on the same day,” said sophomore and first-time national runner Jenna Lovejoy.  

“Coach Stanley said if we can just put together our best day, no matter what place we get we should be happy,” said Gregg. Six out of the seven men runners ran personal bests. The place might not be what they wanted, but they gave it their all.  

“We are very excited to be returning a bunch of bad men, some of the best in the nation,” said Gregg talking about how excited he is for next year. “It is exciting because we had a freshman on the nationals team and a freshman as an alternate,” said Lovejoy.  The women are graduating three runners from the national team, and for the four returners, the feeling of running in a national meet will be great to have. There is a lot of excitement for both programs heading into next year.  

“Having run at a national meet will set you up for so much more success and to understand how a national meet works is a huge advantage,” said Hannan on the number of first-time national runners.  

Coming into this season there were a lot of question marks heading into this season for the teams. On the men’s side, only having one senior on the roster, left an uncertainty of leadership. “Personally, I had a lot of doubts about my ability and place on the team, but soon realized that what I do personally doesn’t matter as long as the team does well then I am doing well,” said Thompson. Thompson was in a unique position, but he made the most of it and stepped up in a big way.  

“We ran for each other the whole season,” said Hannan. “I don’t think it’s going to always be easy to do that but seeing how this season went we know that we have the ability to. We ran so together, and we would pass people and they’d say, ‘Wow that’s a pack’ it was cool to hear other teams saying that,” said Lovejoy.  

As Thompson finishes his cross-country career here at UWL he had one thing he would say to his freshman self and to the younger members of the team. “A lot can change and shouldn’t seek the change but just welcome it,” said Thompson “I wouldn’t be where I am without the change not just my running ability but also in life,”. 

There is no shortage of optimism for the coming years for these programs.