For the first time in USF cross-country history, both the men’s and the women’s teams are in the Top 30 teams on their respective national ranking lists.
With tough competition lined up, and the pressure of upholding an ever-climbing reputation, the Nuttycombe Invitational in Wisconsin could have spelled disaster for USF’s most talented long-distance runners.
The operative word here is “could.” Instead of giving into the stress, our teams decided to give that pressure a run for its money. The result: both the men’s and women’s teams have made USF cross-country history.
For the women’s team, it should come as no surprise that cross-country mainstays Charlotte Taylor and Weronika Pyzik once again led the pack in Wisconsin, landing themselves 3rd and 5th place respectively. Altogether, the women’s team came in 2nd place overall at Nuttycombe, they managed to out-place other nationally ranked teams, including NC State, Providence and Stanford. Instead of quitting while they were ahead, the women’s cross country team has shown that being ahead only gives them further encouragement.
As for the men, senior Ben Alcock led for the Dons in 57th place out of 235. Alcock also managed to make a personal best time of 25:26.7, marking both a victory for USF and for himself as a runner. Senior Jacob Allen was the next Don to propel himself across the finish line, coming in 81st place with grad student Jack Rowe not far behind as the 107th. In all, the men’s cross-country team came in 18th place.
When the previous national poll came in, the women’s team was ranked #6 in the country, sending ripples of excitement over the Hilltop. With the newest poll placing the team at #4, those ripples have turned into tidal waves. The ranking is the highest in USF cross-country history.
All of this hoopla surrounding the women’s team might seem to imply that the men’s team has been overshadowed, but that is not the case. The men’s team has cracked into the men’s Top 30 for the first time in the team’s history, placing themselves at #29 in the entire country.
The next step for the USF cross-country teams is the West Coast Conference Championships on Oct. 27. In the past five years, neither the men’s nor the women’s teams have placed in the WCC Championships. Looking at the 2017’s competition looks like the perfect storm for a streak-breaking win, especially with the home court — or is it home grass? — advantage, historic national standing, and centerpieces such as Taylor, Pyzik and Alcock locked and loaded at the start of the season.
Just when we thought USF’s cross-country teams had peaked, both the men’s and women’s teams have outdone themselves, making USF cross-country history and making those of us on and around the Hilltop extremely proud. It is nearly impossible to not be impressed by these runners, their incredible stamina and their apparently tireless natures.
Hoping to catch the Dons as they tear up the turf in the WCC tomorrow? If so, you’re in luck: USF will be hosting the competition at Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland. The excitement kicks off at 10 a.m. with the women’s 6k, followed by the men’s 8k at 11 a.m.
Can’t make it over the Bay Bridge on Friday morning? Don’t sweat it. Be sure to keep an eye on the cross-country schedule through the Dons Athletics website for a livestream link.
Photos: Dons Athletics/ Flickr