Ben Peake ’25 (he/him), Sports Writer
After recent competitions at Elon University, the All Ohio Championships, and the Adidas XC Challenge, the Davidson men and women’s cross country teams hope to make some noise in the Atlantic 10 as they chase a conference title: something both teams have yet to achieve after entering the conference in 2014.
Starting the season off at the Elon Opener, both teams placed fourth overall, led by freshman runners Jordan Reed ‘25 (20th individually, Women’s 4k) and Jay Shanahan ‘25 (18th individually, Men’s 6k). Rachel Shapiro ‘22, who is in her second year as the women’s cross country/distance captain, had only positive words about the new batch of runners and their star freshman Reed, who Shapiro considers to be an “absolute stud.” Shapiro says that the women’s team has “had one of the best starts to a season that I’ve seen in my four years here” and that their ultimate goal is, of course, to place as high as they can at conference.
Renny Waldron, Director of Men’s Cross Country & Track and Field, echoed these sentiments for the men’s side. Both teams have placed as high as third in the Atlantic 10, with the women’s team doing it in 2017 and the men’s team in 2015. More recent events, like the aforementioned All Ohio Championships and Adidas XC Challenge, have proved fruitful for both teams, as the men’s team placed second behind St. Louis while the women placed third behind NC State and Wake Forest.
Shanahan has quickly found individual success during his first few meets, but he says that there is definitely room for improvement. Senior leadership plays a large role in said improvement. According to Shanahan, the senior leaders] “have a huge impact on a lot of our development and performances. They always give the perfect advice come race time and always help us through incredible workouts while hitting all the paces and doing everything right… They’re the reason the freshmen are performing as well as they are.” While the men’s team does not have official captains, Waldron says that the seniors, along with everyone else, are expected to “act as if you are a captain, in that you are leading by example, that you are being kind to your teammates, and that you are treating others the way you would want to be treated.” Shapiro also noted that all of the seniors are “incredible leaders,” shouting out fellow senior Anna Kathryn Kilby ‘22, while Shanahan was quick to praise Max Pearson ‘22, Alex Ackerman ‘22, and Nico Agosta ‘22.
Looking ahead, Davidson College has recently announced plans to build new facilities that will enhance the experience for scholar-athletes. It is a huge undertaking that will benefit all Division 1 teams, including the cross country team. With a total projected cost of $45 million, the renovations include a refurbished track and new areas for field events as well as locker rooms for the team, allowing Davidson to host meets and events in the future. “The positive effects of having a new track and field dedicated facility are immeasurable!” says Waldron. “Everyone who has anything to do with our program is looking forward to some great meets here! There are so many positives to having a new facility; not only will it greatly enhance the current student-athlete experience, the new facility should also help in the recruiting process.” Shapiro, Shanahan, and Waldron all agreed that the most exciting thing to come out of the whole process is the ability for parents, alumni, students, and fans to finally watch their Wildcats compete in front of a home crowd.
It’s exciting to think about what the future will hold for the XC team when the renovations are done, but in the short term, Davidson Cross Country has all the tools they need to compete, with goals to win the Atlantic 10 this season.