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XC teams finish strong; Westcott and Lief head to nationals

Matt Olszewski

Staff Writer

The College of Wooster men’s and women’s cross-country teams traveled to Shelbyville, Ind. this past Saturday, Oct. 10, for the NCAA DIII Great Lakes Regionals race.

 The men placed eighth out of 38 teams, while the women finished 17th out of 33. On the men’s side, David Westcott ’19, a star performer for the Scots this season, finished seventh of 265 runners with a time of 25:11.7 in the eight-kilometer race. In the process, he earned All-Region as well as an automatic trip to the NCAA DIII National Championships, in Oshkosh, Wis. this Saturday, Oct. 17. 

Westcott was asked about what he is most excited for at Nationals. “Nationals is an amazing experience, and I’m very excited for all the different parts of it, but I’m most excited to challenge myself to reach my full potential against the highest level of competition.” Westcott also talked about what his favorite thing has been about this year’s cross country team. “Work. Some teams have talent, but honestly that was never our team. Our team made it our first priority to push ourselves and challenge ourselves to reach our goals. This team had 11 runners that would run twice a day so they could be stronger runners. We had guys go for a 20-mile run, 100-mile weeks and push themselves to new levels. We knew we weren’t the most talented team but that we were going to make it our goal to work harder than we ever thought we could before,” said Westcott.

Brian Lief ’19 was also an All-Region runner and placed 17th overall with a time of 25:44.9. Lief received a bid for Nationals after Case Western Reserve University was selected as one of the at-large teams to go to Oshkosh. This moved Lief up and he was then one of the individual at-large NCAC athletes to qualify. 

Lief shared the moment which ultimately got him to the Championships. “At about four miles into the race, I saw Coach Rice and he said that if I pass some guys, I had a chance to qualify for Nationals as an individual. That gave me confidence to keep pushing and I was able to pass several people during the last 600 meters,” Lief said. 

The senior also remarked on how he feels going to Nationals now, alongside a teammate [Westcott] who he has been running with since they started their careers at Wooster. 

“It’s a great feeling. After last cross-country season, our team knew that we had the potential to do this and this year we raised the intensity. We put in a lot of time outside of practice making sure that we were doing everything we could to achieve our goals,” he said. 

Westcott added that he and Lief have ran a lot together over the years and have shared highs and lows; however, they have always worked past hardships and challenged themselves to reach their full potential. As teammates, they have inspired each other to work hard for themselves and their team. 

Amongst the other Scots, Jackson Feinknopf ’19 placed 44th overall with a time of 26:07.6 and Simon Weyer ’19 finished in 100th place in a time of 26:54.4. Lastly, Matt Klonowski ’21 rounded out the top-five runners to score in a time of 27:04.4, finishing in 114th place overall. The men ended up finishing eighth against other competitors with 282 points total.

The Wooster women were led by two star first-years and Emani Kelley ’19. Isabelle Hoover ’22 finished the six-kilometer race in 23:35 for a 68th place overall finish. Next, Kelley ran in a time of 24:05.7 for a 94th place overall finish and Kayla Bertholf ’22 was close to her, coming in at 24:08.2 for a 101st place finish. Amirah Yessoufou ’22 finished the race with a time of 24:17.7 for 109th overall and Emma Busch ’21 rounded out the top-five, scoring in 134th place with a time of 24:45. 

(Photo by Matt Olszewski)

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