By Gabe Sturges
The auburn- and orange-tinged leaves littered the close-shorn grass, blowing about occasionally on a characteristically crisp autumn mid-afternoon. Amongst the crunch of leaves underfoot at Saratoga State Park, one could hear the frantic shouts of encouragement and the rhythmic clacking of running spikes as ten teams dashed about during the NYSCTC State Championships.
On Saturday morning, the Union men’s and women’s cross country teams sojourned to the nearby nature park, inspired by the previous meet’s impressive outcome and buoyed by a hard week of training. Both teams performed remarkably well, resulting in numerous personal bests as well as impressively high team placements.
On the women’s side, the team was again led by the dedicated contingent of rookies consisting of freshmen Cara Zimmerman, Elizabeth Nailing, Jackie Messare, and Keilah Creedon, as well as rookie sophomore Tory Cameron, who formed the now anticipated top five. Not far behind was senior captain Michelle Richter, who ran aggressively and crossed the finish line, proudly sporting a personal best time of over one minute. Showing the true determination that only the sport’s toughest discipline can create, seniors Courtney Foley and Suzanne Estok, and freshman Callie Aldrich all performed well, along with junior Kaileigh Moore who completed the fastest race of her collegiate career. From here on, only blue skies appear ahead, based on a day of impressive performances by all. The women’s team finished ninth overall.
For the men, there seems to be no limit to their improvement, as seven of the top eight harriers set personal bests on the course, which was anything but easy. Sophomore Gabe Sturges led the Union squad with senior captain Dearon Panossian, powerhouse freshman Peter Donnelly and rapidly improving sophomore Ethan Loew galloping just behind. Panossian posted a time some 20 seconds faster than his previous best with Loew dropping nearly 30 seconds. Donnelly stepped into virgin territory, breaking 28 minutes for the first time in his young yet already prestigious career. Next came senior captain Ben Lawrence and junior Ian Schwartz, who both posted substantial drops in time. Facing his final year to compete at Saratoga, senior captain Pat Petty showed his mettle, running yet another personal best. Also in the race for the Dutchmen was rookie Kenneth Gordon Seyles III, steadily lowering his previous best and nearly eclipsing the 31-minute mark. On the day, the men’s squad finished in seventh place.
The Dutchmen and Dutchwomen return to action this coming week, traveling to Hobart College for the Liberty League Championships.