The University of Portland men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled to Madison, Wisconsin to run in the NCAA Championship. Both teams excelled as the women turned in their best-ever performance, finishing 12th, while the men’s team found the podium once again, finishing third.
The women’s team came into the day as the 23rd ranked team in the country. They were also racing for the second time at nationals in program history.
The women’s squad was lead by seniors Lauren LaRocco and Taryn Rawlings who both finished with All-American times. LaRocco finished in 20:05.1, earning 13th place, while Rawlings placed 26th, finishing in 20:27.4. Portland kept their heads down and kept pace in the challenging snowy weather.
Before a tough race head coach Ian Solof wanted his team to keep calm and run their way. This message seemed to be delivered clearly his team who exceeded expectations by finishing 12th.
Both teams had to come equipped with longer spikes to account for the hard ground due to the freezing temperatures. The runners saw a considerable amount of snow before and during the races.
“Most of our athletes haven’t raced in snow, but they are kind of used to bad weather,” Solof said. “We have been talking since the beginning of the year that it was going to be cold once we got to nationals”.
Both teams came prepared for the elements and had to push the weather to the back of their mind.
The men’s team came in looking to continue their success of the past couple years. Portland has been no stranger to nationals as they landed on the podium this weekend for the third time in five years.
The men’s team was lead by their own pair of seniors as Nick Hauger, who finished 4th, and Logan Orndorff, who finished 25th, both earned All-American honors. Junior Emmanuel Roudolff-Levisse also earned the honors and placed the highest for Portland at 21st.
“We figured there would be a pack out in front. We wanted to be a part of that,” Orndorff said. “We had to work together and hope the pieces would fall in place.”
While the men’s team battled hard to match their second-place finish from last year, they came up just short, settling for third. Each runner ran tough, given that the conditions were not ideal.
Both teams leave Wisconsin with a feeling of accomplishment and their eyes set on next season. The women will look to build on their success of the last few years, while the men’s team will look to continue to build their success to close the gap and finish first.
Jamison White is a sports reporter at The Beacon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.