The Webster University men’s and women’s cross-country teams competed in their final meet of the season, the NCAA Midwest Regional, on Nov. 12 in Rock Island, Ill.
Only four Webster men competed in the race, so they weren’t eligible to place as a team. The women finished in 24th place, which was the highest the team has ever finished at the Midwest Regional.
“The girls followed our race plan pretty much to perfection,” men’s and women’s cross-country coach Dusty Lopez said. “Our race plan was to be a little bit more aggressive, and that caught up with us at the end of the race.”
The Webster women finished with 732 points, which led all St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference teams that participated in the meet. Principia College, Greenville College and Fontbonne University finished 31st, 35th and 36th, respectively.
Lopez said Webster’s times weren’t as fast as he expected. But other coaches thought their teams posted slower times as well.
“There was discussion among all of the coaches from all the schools after the meet,” Lopez said. “Across the board in the men’s and women’s races, the times were about 30 seconds slower than coaches expected them to be. Nobody is real sure why that might be, other than the course might have gotten slightly altered. It’s just kind of conspiracy theory at this point.”
Junior Jane McKibben led Webster with a time of 24:58, which was good for 130th overall. Like Lopez, McKibben wasn’t sure if the course had been changed this year.
“Going into it, I thought it was the same course,” McKibben said. “When we got to that first mile, we ended up getting a lot faster times than we’re used to. As I finished, I was just barely under 25 (minutes), which isn’t bad at all. I wasn’t quite sure if the course itself had changed or one of those days where we weren’t 100 percent.”
McKibben believes the Gorloks didn’t run to their fullest potential, and they could have finished better than 24th in a field of 38 teams.
“There’s not a doubt in my mind we could’ve finished a little bit higher,” McKibben said.
Sophomore Julie Greenough finished four seconds after McKibben in 132nd place, while sophomore Heather Heisse finished 11 seconds after Greenough in 138th. Sophomore Eroica Stackhouse (161st overall) and freshman Kassandra Ochoa (171st overall) rounded out the scoring for Webster.
Men race, but don’t place
Lopez decided to bring only four men to the meet instead of five because he felt he had only four runners healthy enough to compete.
“If our goal is to go and put our best foot forward, then I want guys who are physically ready to do that right now,” Lopez said. “I felt like we had four of those guys, but not quite a fifth. All season long we’ve had at least five healthy guys, but at the end of the year, we kind of ran into a little bit of fatigue.”
Because they couldn’t place as a team, the Gorloks tried to post solid individual times.
Freshman Jason Hickson led Webster with a time of 28:23, which placed him 172nd. Senior Tony Morales finished 195th, junior Dan Henkey finished 227th and freshman Nate Hitchcock finished 231st.
“The competition we were going up against was really good,” Hitchcock said. “We ran our races and we ran as hard as we could. Some of our times were lower than we would have liked. It would have been better if all of us would’ve run sub-26 or sub-25, but that didn’t happen.”