Against some of the nation’s best teams, men’s cross country earned a 12th place finish out of 24 teams at the Greater Louisville Classic this past Saturday. Iona beat out Michigan, Louisville and Ole Miss for the overall team title.
Led by Ryan Phillips ’16, whose season-best time of 24:46:01 was good for a 48th place finish, Davidson’s top five finishers all ran sub-26 in their 8K’s. Across the board, the Wildcats cut off a bunch of seconds from their times at Vanderbilt two weeks ago.
“We’re definitely happy with our performance on Saturday,” Phillips said. “It was a stacked race with some of the best teams in the country but we held our own and edged out the other A-10 teams competing there. We still have a lot of work to do before conference, but the race was a great benchmark for us.”
Picked to finish fourth in the A-10 preseason poll, Davidson edged the predicted fifth place finisher La Salle, 389-405. The third A-10 team to compete, Richmond finished 21st in the race, its top five finishers combining for a score of 592.
Daniel Samet ’16, who was named Atlantic 10 Performer of the Week for his race at the Commodore Classic on September 19, lowered his time by more than 35 seconds from that meet, running a 24:58.96 to finish 70th overall. Will Brewster ’17 was the third Wildcat across with a time of 25:17.75, good for 92nd overall.
The notable performance of the day might have come from Dylan Carmack ’19. Running only his second ever competitive 8K, the freshman shaved more than 86 seconds off his previous time. Crossing the line in 25:19.60, Carmack earned a 96th place finish. His strong race was certainly noticed by teammates.
“Dylan had a great race and really helped out our team score,” Phillips said. “Typically, freshmen are still getting used to the 8K at this point in the year but he’s managed to contribute in a big way already.”
Ian Robertson ’18 completed Davidson’s top five, finishing 141st with a time of 25:53.60. But there was little gap between him and Davidson’s other two runners on the day, Ramsay Ritchie ’18 and Walker Mogen ’17, who came in at 26:02.41 and 26:04.31, respectively.
The narrow gap between Davidson’s runners speaks to tremendous depth that is being built within the team. That depth was not there to this extent in recent years, and it is a large reason that this team believes it can line up well in the postseason.
With only five runners making up the team score at each meet, and seven competing, the margin for error in cross country is slim. Getting every member of the team ready to contribute on any given day is huge. Having the depth to withstand a bad race from a runner could make all the difference at the conference championships.
The team knows that although it is in solid shape right now, they don’t want to be at peak form in early October. The ‘Cats want to use these midseason races to prepare them for the postseason meets, conference and regionals, at the end of the fall.
“Saturday’s meet in Louisville was about competing against a quality field and getting ready for the races that matter,” Samet said. “Our team trusts the training and looks forward to the opportunities that await us at the end of the season.”
That training began many months ago, as some members of the team logged 100-mile weeks over the summer. Often running multiple times in a day, they built mileage in preparation for the long season. Now, the training has become more speed-oreinted to try to increase their anaerobic capacity. These workouts should help them peak as they head into the postseason.
The Atlantic 10 Championships on October 31 looms on the horizon.