Last Saturday, the Swarthmore cross country teams took part in the Centennial Conference Championships. Led by Jacob Phillips ‘13, the Garnet men scored 104 points to finish fourth behind the strong teams from Haverford, Dickinson and Johns Hopkins. On the women’s side, Jenna Cody ’16 led the team to a sixth place finish, with a score of 150 points.
Phillips finished the race in his typically strong fashion, placing seventh overall and earning First-Team All Centennial Conference honors — the first Garnet runner to do so since Lang Reynolds in 2003.
From the very beginning, Phillips had his eye on the prize. “That was my goal going into the race and I knew exactly what I needed to do to accomplish that,” he said. The race turned out to be thrilling until the end, without a clear top seven in front until the very end of the five-mile race. “It turned into a sprint finish where First Team honors were decided in the last 200 meters,” said Phillips. But despite an exhausting race, Phillips still managed to enjoy the adrenaline rush. “[It] was incredibly exciting and encouraging to me because I’m never the runner who can out-sprint someone,” he said.
Cody emerged as the leader of the women’s team, finishing 17th overall despite dealing with a sprained ankle. With such an important race on the line, Cody certainly felt the weight of it. “The atmosphere was definitely more intense than the other races,” she said. “It was pretty exciting for everyone.”
While the team may have been looking for a stronger finish, Cody was still pleased with the results. “We ran great as a team … we were able to work together and get all seven of our scoring runners across the line in less than 24 minutes,” she said. Head Coach Peter Carroll was equally proud of his team, saying, “Considering all the setbacks we had on the women’s side, I thought we performed gallantly.”
With the Centennial Conference Championships behind them, both teams are now focusing on the upcoming NCAA Mideast Regional Race on Nov. 10, with a chance to qualify for the national championships. Phillips hopes to build upon the men’s team’s performance last Saturday. “We were further behind Hopkins and Dickinson than we would have liked … [at Regionals] we’re running against about forty additional teams that we didn’t see at Centennial Championships,” he said.
Fortunately enough, this upcoming race will bring out the strengths of many of their runners. “The terrain at Regionals will be much more rugged, which will favor some of our runners who are better on hills,” Carroll explained. Phillips shared similar confidence. “We’re a team that’s historically strong on hills,” he said.
With a hunger for a stronger performance, both teams will be entering the NCAA Mideast Regional Races with a competitive fire. However, as last week’s race proved for Phillips, cross country can be unpredictable. As he put it, “Ultimately, we’ll have to see what next Saturday brings.”