The Castleton men’s and women’s cross country teams were ready Saturday to race in the biggest race of the year, the NCAA Regional Championships.
This race was held at Williams College where men placed 34th out of 54 teams and the women placed 47th out of 57th teams. After a long, hard fought season, team members said the experience of running in the NCAAs was amazing.
“Just being a part of that pack when the gun went off and the music blasting was energizing,” freshman Elizabeth Bassette said.
She, as always, had a very solid performance for Castleton. Crossing the finish line as the top Spartan finisher, she notched a 137th place finish in 24:46.1
“After the race and even coming down into the last 400 meters of the race, I rejoiced knowing that three months of hard training and competitive racing was over,” Bassette said. “Don’t get me wrong, I love cross-country, but after three months, I need to recover.”
Also racing for the Spartans were Margaret Kuchinski, Kelsey Thomson, Caitlin Ryan and Cassie Pinaire.
Bassette said the teams’ overall success this season was awesome, and after reflecting on her experience at Castleton, she said cross-country has made her transition into the college life a lot smoother.
“It has helped me balance out my time in the books exercising my mind and my time on the field exercising my body. I have also grown really close to a group of girls whom I would not have known without the aid of cross-country,” Bassette said.
She’s not alone with those thoughts.
“Cross-country was where I made my first friends and connections at Castleton. I’ve had so many great experiences with the team throughout the years,” senior Matt Woodward said.
He also said eventually he would get to the point where he started to enjoy going on an eight-mile run because the men he ran with were not only his teammates, but his friends too.
Woodward was one of five Castleton men to race in the championships along with teammates Grandon Smith, Jonah Lavigne, Ben Girard and Patrick Gilligan. Top finisher for the Spartans was Lavigne who came in 176th place, recording a time of 28:36.5.
Speaking on behalf of many senior athletes though, Woodward said it’s hard to see the season end.
“It’s definitely bittersweet. I know I gave it my all in every race and I met so many great people and had so many great experiences that it couldn’t have gone any better,” Woodward said.