By LUKE BEDNAREK
For The News-Letter
In their longest road trip so far this season, Blue Jay cross country traveled to Florida for the Disney Classic Meet on Saturday and continued what has been an impressive season for both the men’s and women’s teams.
Both teams adapted well to the Florida conditions and unusually early start time, thanks in part to altered training and approaches to the race.
“The Disney Classic race actually started at 7:40 a.m. while most of our other races start much later in the morning,” senior captain Ryan Schwartz said. “This presented a few unique challenges as we had to get used to getting our bodies ready to race so early in the morning, which we have been able to do by switching many of our workouts to the early morning.”
These conditions did not seems to have any serious effect on the performance of the teams, however, since the women placed first as a team and the men fourth.
The women’s team exhibited the dominance that has become characteristic of them with a first-place team finish, as well as a first-place individual performance from senior Sophia Meehan. All five of the teams’s scoring runners finished in the top 10 as the team scored a decisive 24 (second-place Malone University scored 94). This sort of performance showcases the true depth and coordination of the team and the payoff of their hard work.
“The performances of everyone amaze me each and every day we practice and do workouts,” senior captain Hannah Oneda said. “We really have never had a team as good as we have now, and I think the fact we finish so close together is wonderful.”
The team has been public in their goal of winning another national title, and in this meet they demonstrated their capability and are excited about the rest of the season.
“Our team definitely feels the excitement from having such an incredibly deep team,” Oneda said. “Winning with such a low average, and tight spread just shows how much work we have put in from the season already. We are looking forward to dropping even more time as we head into nationals.”
Of course, Meehan’s continuing excellence has certainly helped the team in their multiple victories. Meehan now has two individual victories on the season and has collected accolades like National D-III Runner of the Week and Centennial Conference Runner of the Week.
“Sophia has been doing great this season, and her incredible talent and racing skills is really something the team can look up to,” Oneda said.
Oneda herself is a major contributor, placing second for the team and fourth overall on Saturday and consistently scores for the Blue Jays.
This is particularly impressive considering that she has had to recover from a injury.
“It took a lot of work, but I’ve learned much more about myself as a runner from being injured, and I think it has brought me more determination than ever to achieve a national championship with these girls again,” Oneda said.
The Hopkins men are also satisfied with their results, a fourth-place team finish.
Much of this success can be attributed to the Blue Jays running their tightest pack of the season so far, with only a 22-second difference between their first and fifth place runners.
“This was by far the best spread we have had all season, and as we get into championship season it is this factor that will really help us achieve our goals,” Schwartz said.
The men’s team has professed their goal of winning the Centennial Conference this year, and from this race they can see what is working for the team, and what they should look at in the rest of the season.
“At invitational meets like this it is much more important to practice executing our race strategies effectively,” Schwartz said. “We have continued to get off the starting line in great position, setting ourselves up perfectly, and we also did a much better job of packing up and working together as a team during the race.”
From the results at Saturday’s meet, and looking at the potential of this team, it is clear that they look forward to and remain determined for the upcoming championships.
“As a team we couldn’t be more excited about the Conference Championship race coming up,” Schwartz said. “It will once again be a competitive race, but we have been putting in the work day in and day out to make it happen.”