By Michael Langton
For the third consecutive year, the Webster women’s cross country team captured a conference title. The men’s team finished in third place with multiple runners posting new personal records. Webster University’s cross country teams competed in SLIAC conference play over the weekend of Nov. 2.
Junior Kalleigh Linthicum became one of only three Gorlok runners in school history to win an individual conference title, according to Webster athletics. She crossed the finish line with a 6K personal record time of 23:14.63. Linthicum secured a First-Team All-SLIAC nod and SLIAC Women’s Runner of the Year honors.
Linthicum and five other Webster runners finished in the top 14 of the race. Freshman Kaitlin Higgins posted a new 6K personal best of 23:53.49. She also took home the SLIAC Newcomer of the Year Award.
Webster also took home the SLIAC Team Sportsmanship Award. Linthicum, Higgins, Meredith Sowers and Taylor Dunning made First Team All-SLIAC. Danielle Schultz and Savannah Brewer were awarded spots on the Second Team All-SLIAC.
In men’s cross country, senior Nathan Freyling placed second overall in the conference, posting his second personal record of the season with an 8K time of 26:08.16. Freshman Cam Sakuma finished with the best time of any freshman, 26:31.28, to achieve eighth overall.
Sakuma said he made Second Team All-SLIAC and won the SLIAC Men’s Newcomer of the Year Award: this marks the first time a Gorlok runner has won the award. The men’s team won the SLIAC Sportsmanship Award.
Freyling was named to the All-Sportsmanship Team for the conference. With Freyling injured at the start of the season for the men’s team, Sakuma had to step up as the team’s de-facto No. 1 runner, something assistant cross country coach Nick Niehaus said he was very happy with.
“Cam is an extremely hard worker and has listened to everything Coach Graber and I have said since the beginning of the summer,” Niehaus said. “That hard work is paying off and he’s reaping the rewards.”
Sakuma said championship season is one of his favorite opportunities of the year.
“It’s something I hold dearly to my heart,” Sakuma said. “It lights a fire under everyone.”
He praised the women’s team and their championship victory, calling them “amazing.”
Freyling said that Sakuma had been a leader on the team all season and he was very impressed with what he observed.
“He’s one of the best freshmen that we’ve probably ever had. I’ve seen him be a leader in workouts and races. He just has that leader mentality to him.”
Both teams now shift their focus to regional championship races on Nov. 16 at Lake Breeze Golf Club in Winneconne, Wisconsin.