Article by Adam Denn <email@example.com>
For collegiate athletes, there is no more important time than championship season. For four months of a season, athletes will eat, sleep, and even breathe with the purpose of performing at their highest level for these legendary moments. All of the work put in, sacrifices made, and goals set go towards leading their team towards success — making championship contests a truly electrifying atmosphere. The Bears’ cross country teams will face such an atmosphere over the next weekend, as they gear up for the Centennial Conference Championships in Westminster, Maryland. I spoke to the teams about how they have prepared for the moment throughout the regular season, as well as their goals and expectations for the championship meet.
The journey through the regular season to championship meets is never easy. Often, teams will face varying amounts of adversity along the way, either strengthening them or causing them to fold in the process. This Bears team certainly faced their share, but it seems to have played to their strengths. The team has been forced to bear poor weather often throughout the season. Tucker Mcgrath ’24 pointed to the group as a “gritty team” that is able to “thrive on rainy, cold, and slippery races.” Both teams also faced significant losses roster-wise, as they lost two and three seniors respectively. The women’s team specifically would lose two all-Centennial Conference runners, a huge loss for any program. But once again, their grit showed through, as Coach Blickle emphasized the performances of underclassmen Ryann Wauhier ’25, Sam Grubb ’24, Mia Saderis ’26, and Meghan Carroll ’25 in “improving significantly” to bolster this squad. Through their determination, both teams have developed the aforementioned grit to succeed as they move towards the finish line.
It is with this grit that the team has reached new heights as a program throughout the regular season, with both teams finishing higher than they ever have at their competitions at Rowan and Lebanon University. Coach Blickle pointed out that 21 of 23 runners participating ended up with personal bests in their most recent meet at Rowan. This included Mcgrath, who shattered a program record in the 8k, with a time of 25:37.5. Mcgrath spoke of what had been a “long, methodical rise” to this moment for him, but mostly of the massive accomplishments of his teammates in what was a “top to bottom effort.” Massive achievements were also made by both teams, as the women’s team also jumped to 7th in the regional women’s and the men’s team finished with their best top 5 average times in program history. It all made for a massive confidence boost as both teams approached this meet, as Blickle described both teams as “healthy and running at a high level.”
While many Ursinus teams in the past have performed at conference championships, these XC teams have the potential to become the best in history. The Bears had their best ever finishes at the meet just a year ago, the men placing 5th and the women placing 4th in the conference respectively. With the momentum both teams have accumulated through toughness and great running over the past few weeks, there seems to be nothing stopping the team as they move towards this opportunity. “We are the best UC team ever on paper” Mcgrath stressed, “so we would like to finish higher than any UC team ever has.” With their performance so far this year, it certainly seems such a finish could be on the horizon. Good luck to the Bears this weekend in Westminster!