We are often told of how the pioneers once settled the land in the 18th and 19th centuries, making the country larger and greater, taming the land and calling it their new home.
It happened all over again this past Saturday.
The Grinnell Pioneers tamed Galesburg’s Lake Storey Park as if it were their own home course in Saturday’s Midwest Conference men’s cross country meet. They took the conference crown, their twelfth in a row, in landslide fashion. In the women’s Conference Championship, the Monmouth Fighting Scots narrowly held off the Carroll Pioneers to take the trophy.
As a team, Knox’s men’s team placed tenth in the eight-kilometer course. The Prairie Fire women took ninth in their six-kilometer race.
The Pioneers took the first five finishes in the men’s side, including individual medalist, senior Henry Reich, who finished in 25:51.39. All seven Grinnell runners finished in the top 15 runners overall.
Senior Mike Dooley’s 49th place finish in 28:51.78 was the top for the Prairie Fire men’s team. Junior Ryan Maniscalco (60th), freshman Kevin Box (62nd), junior Chris Mouzakitis (65th), freshman David Brankin (102nd), sophomore Chris Bugajski (114th), sophomore Avi Segaloff (117th), freshman Jordan Reifsteck (118th), senior Jacob Braun (124th), and sophomore Jordan Lanfair (127th) rounded out Knox’s finishers.
Grinnell soundly defeated St. Norbert and Monmouth to take the title. Knox, with an average time of 29:54.35, finished just 13 points behind ninth-place Lake Forest.
In the women’s race, the Prairie Fire finished ninth as a team, led by senior Karen Brophy’s 37th, sophomore Tanya Novotnak’s 40th, and sophomore Chloe Bohm’s 44th place finishes. Freshman Brenna DeGan (67th), sophomore Claire Knowlton (93rd), sophomore Tara Orech (97th), freshman Laura Mills (105th), junior Mary Purrazzo (106th), sophomore Helen Hapner (112th), and freshman Sara Koehnke (121st) rounded out the Prairie Fire’s Saturday.
The Fighting Scots narrowly edged Carroll and Grinnell to win the meet. Individual medalist honors went to St. Norbert’s Jenny Scherer. The junior finished in 21:24.25, nearly 40 seconds before Monmouth sophomore Mary Kate Beyer, her closest competitor. Knox finished just four points behind eighth-place Lake Forest, but soundly defeated Illinois College, who finished tenth.
“I think everyone tried their hardest at conference even though we did not finish where we wanted to,” said Brophy about the teams’ performances at the conference meets. “I think there is still more room for improvement in these next two weeks leading up to regionals.”
“Neither team finished where they wanted to, but that fact aside, both teams made huge improvements from the previous year,” Hapner said.
Both teams will send their top seven runners to the regional meet in two weeks in Iowa, where they will again square off with many of the same conference foes whom they went toe to toe with on Nov. 1.
“Regionals is a last chance for us to see how we can run individually,” Brophy said. “The season has gone by pretty fast, and people have put in a lot of time and hard work into this sport. All of that hard work should show at regionals.”