Young Talent Shines for Wooster Cross Country

Jonathan Logan

Editor in Chief

The cross country team opened their season last Wednesday, Sept. 1 at home at the Wooster Invitational. Teams from Otterbein University, Baldwin Wallace, Wittenberg, Bryant & Stratton and Oberlin all competed against Wooster. While the event was non-scoring, Wooster’s harriers made a strong statement at their first meet since 2019.

The men’s four-mile run consisted of 86 runners, but there were six first-years who stood out as Wooster’s top competitors. Will Callender ‘25 broke the men’s four-mile record with a rapid time of 21:35.3. Callender’s record time allowed him to finish in fifth place overall and in first place for the Fighting Scots. Callender, from Seattle, Washington, said that “it just kind of happened,” and that he “didn’t realize until after” that he had beaten alumnus Joe David’s time of 21:38.7.

This impressive performance of first-years was rounded out by Michail Protopapadakis, who ran a 24:19.3, Drew Robertson at 24:20.1, Eric Johnson at 24:29.4, and Chris Frerichs, who ran a 24:36.3. Duncan Hardy ‘24 and Ben Nichols ‘25 finished second and third respectively for Wooster with times of 23:03.7 and 23:21.0.

Wooster’s home cross country course at LC Boles Memorial Golf Course is notoriously difficult, as it boasts some of the steepest and longest hills in the region. Callender recalled that the first mile-and-a-half of the course is downhill but suddenly becomes a steep uphill climb for the remainder of the distance, and noted that the hardest part of the course was the “third mile going up that final hill.” Many of his teammates commented on how well he handled the climbs and echoed the sentiment that Wooster’s hills are well-known for their number and steepness.

The women’s team competed in a 4k run consisting of 74 runners. They too saw one of their own run at a near-record pace with Athena Tharenos ‘24 traversing the course in 15:18.3 – a mere four seconds off of her current teammate Kayla Bertholf’s ‘22, record of 15:14.50.

Following Tharenos for the Scots was Bertholf with a time of 16:07.8; Jessica Breth ‘25, who ran a 16:44.7 and finished inside the top-20 overall; Eva Bauman ‘25 ran a 16:54.9; Abby Rice ‘23 crossed at 17:26.0; Rachel Osterhouse ‘22 at 17:27.0; Elise Greenwald ‘25 finished with a time of 17:48.8; Isabelle Dwyer ‘25 rounded out Wooster’s top-eight at 18:43.6.

With their first meet in the books, Osterhouse offered a squad-oriented perspective on how the team is adjusting to competition after nearly two years away. “Getting back into that competitive mindset may seem challenging, but everyone on the team is so hardworking and eager to be back that it has been an easier transition than expected.”

In addition to juggling the ups and downs of a collegiate sport, the women’s team has maintained very lofty academic standards with one of the highest team GPAs on campus. Osterhouse believes that “success on the XC course really translates to success in the classroom,” and stated that each member of the team recognizes what needs to be done.

In addition to a strong group of senior leaders on both the men’s and women’s teams, there is plenty of young talent in the class of 2025. Callender is among the group of promising first-years, but he’s staying focused on this season, saying that it’s as simple as looking forward to the next meets and enjoying the competition. Osterhouse kept it simple as well, adding that she is “looking forward to having everyone on the team together again!”

The cross country team travels to Wittenberg University this Saturday, Sept. 11, for their next meet!