Oberlin is finding its footing midway through the cross country season as its 10 runners improve on times.
Following the graduation of PAC-12 cross country champion Asta Rustad last spring, it has been a rebuilding year for the Phoenix girls.
In 2016, paced by Rustad’s first place finish, the team checked in as seventh place finishers in the conference. Back are senior Sandra Perales, sophomore Megan Dobos, and junior Janae Johnson to carry the load.
At the Vermilion Invitational this past weekend, with just three runners, the Phoenix girls didn’t qualify for a team score but Perales ran her best time of the season by more than a minute (31:44, 58th) while Dobos (24:37, 34th) and Johnson (24:02, 26th) covered the 5K distance in times just off their own personal bests.
Coach David Hathaway was quite pleased with the progress. “The girls have been working hard this year and it shows,” he said. “They’re all running stronger and more confidently, as well as faster, as we’ve moved deeper into the season.”
The boys return seven runners this season, and while injuries have kept them from fielding a full squad at every meet, they too are beginning to see the fruits of their labors.
At Vermilion, the team posted a respectable eighth place finish against competition from several bigger schools. The boys were paced by sophomore Jonathan Turner (19:02, 22nd) and senior Jeremy Burnside (19:19, 24th). Also garnering points for the Phoenix were sophomore Matt Fritz (20:59, 54th), junior Nik Vayda (21:35, 60th), and sophomore Ewan Inglis (22:13, 75th).
Demonstrating the team’s progress, three Phoenix harriers posted personal bests: Burnside (by 18 seconds), Fritz (by 26 seconds), and second-year Asher Cipinko (by 34 seconds).
“Despite a very warm day, the team ran smart and within themselves. Very enjoyable to see the times coming down so dramatically this deep into the season,” said Hathaway.