The Hawks men’s and women’s cross country teams battled in three very competitive races at Williams College’s Purple Valley Classic on Sept. 28. With 22 other schools present and competing between the races, the Purple Valley Classic was the biggest meet of the year for the Hawks.
The day started out with the co-ed 5K. Second-year Hans Hilson-Schneid placed an impressive 14th overall, with a time of 17:49.9 for the Hawks. Next up was the men’s team in the 8K, placing 11th out of 19 teams, and beating Plattsburgh State by 60 points–the only other SUNYAC program entered in the Classic.
The men were led by fourth-year captain Matt Whitworth, who placed 39th overall with a time of 27.33.9. Second-year Jake Meyers also contributed, coming in second place for the Hawks and 54th overall with a time of 28:12.0.
The women’s 6K was the final race of the day. Despite the oppressive heat conditions, the Lady Hawks placed a satisfying eighth out of 14 teams, considering the tough competition.
Fourth-year captain Emily Cavanagh had another strong outing with the Hawks, placing ninth overall with a time of 23.40.4, crushing her 24.28.2 just two weeks prior. Third-year runner Cassandra Williams followed closely behind, with an impressive time of 24.16.7, finishing second for the Hawks.
The power of teamwork goes a long way. Not only did the ladies prove this today by stepping up, but even a Lady Hawk who wasn’t able to participate in the race still found a way to be a team player. Freshman Kacey Manzueta tore her tendon in January and has been injured due to a stress fracture, but her injuries haven’t stopped her from motivating her team.
“I do support the team, even though I’m not running, I’m there cheering them on,” Manzueta said. “You can motivate yourself so much, but at the same time it does feel nice to know people are watching you and rooting for you.”
Cross country is a sport that relies so heavily on one’s ability to keep pushing themselves, mentally and physically. Having been running on a team for five years, Manzueta knows exactly what to say from the sidelines to keep her team fired up.
“Where I cheer them on it’s more technique wise, ‘pump your arms or pump your legs’,” Manzueta said. “Someone who doesn’t run cross country will be like ‘c’mon let’s go, run faster!,’ if it was only that easy.”
Manzueta described being apart of a team as like having another family. As for her personal goals, she hopes her knee will be able to heal so she can run at least three races for the Hawks this season, if not more.
Manzueta was able to turn a not-so-great-situation into something valuable: an example of adaptation and survival if things don’t go as expected at first. That’s truly what the heart of cross country is all about.
Motivation, perseverance, determination and ambition: these are qualities every runner should have in order to thrive at cross country, and both teams sure proved they had it in them on Saturday. Both the men’s and women’s teams will head to the Ronald C. Hoffman Invite in Canton, New York, on Oct. 12 at 11 a.m. as they look to push for even greater strides.