On Saturday, Nov. 13, the College of Wooster women’s and men’s cross country teams competed at the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional Championships. The meet was held in Shelbyville, IN. The course, Blue River Cross Country Course, is a national level running facility that hosts 3K through 8K courses.
Placing 13th out of 37 teams, the women’s team put up its best regional performance since 2006 when the Scots finished in 12th place. The men’s team came in 28th out of 37 teams. The women’s race was a 6K event, while the men’s event was an 8K.
Wooster’s top three harriers, Isabelle Hoover ’22, Athena Tharenos ’24 and Kayla Bertholf ’22, all finished within the top 60 of the 266-deep field, and were also honored as All-NCAC runners prior to the regional championships. Hoover, who won the NCAC title in the 10,000 meter track and field event in the spring, finished with a time of 23:15.6, which saw her place 46th. Tharenos crossed at 23:24.2 and finished 55th. Bertholf, a senior and captain of the team, finished with a time of 23:26.6 in 58th place.
Bertholf, who has raced in regional meets with Wooster before, said that the atmosphere at these championships is “always high-energy” thanks to the “spectators screaming for their athletes and the teams knowing they will have to give it their all.” Bertholf’s time broke her seasonal personal record (PR) on a 6K course, and many others on the team also turned in seasonal bests or PR times. Bertholf added that “although we did not make it to the national level, I know each girl gave it their all. It was a hard race with great competition.”
Also placing for the Scots was first-year Dylan Kretchmar and senior Rachel Osterhouse with times of 23:36.8 and 25:52.1 respectively. Additionally, first-years Jessica Breth and Elise Greenwald debuted at the regional level, running the Blue River course in 25:55.4 and 26:55.2. Osterhouse’s time was good enough to break her old seasonal-best time and Breth’s time gave her a new overall PR. Kretchmar and Greenwald also set their own PR’s.
The men’s team was led by Will Callender ’25, who just this season had broken the team course record for the 4K race in his first ever collegiate race. Callender placed 111th on Saturday with a time of 27:05 on the 8K course. Ben Nichols, also a first-year, posted a time of 27:25.6 in his first regional race at the collegiate level. Nichols rounded out the top-half of the 266-runner field with a 130th place finish.
Finishing in third and fourth respectively for the Scots were first years Drew Robertson and Eric Johnson with times of 27:59.5 and 28:03.6. Duncan Hardy ’24 finished next with a time of 28:34.9, followed by senior Alex DeLong and sophomore Mitch Ecklund. DeLong crossed the finish line at 28:47.9 and Ecklund at 29:06.4.
Callender, who has finished first in every race for Wooster this season, reflected on Saturday’s events, saying, “the team’s approach was to go out and run a good race, leave everything on the course.” The men’s team is very young, and Callender said that this regional appearance was also about “getting experience running 8Ks.” Overall, Callender was “super proud of how the team has done,” and was “thrilled with how [his] season went this year.”
Bertholf, who ran her last race at these regionals, had nothing but fond memories to reflect on. “My time on the team has given me some of my favorite memories and best friends. I cherish the early morning long runs and [the] understanding we share in races and workouts.” She added, “I cannot wait to see more growth and to see [the team] advance in championship meets in the upcoming years.”