The Brits want to make it a tradition of going to the NCAA National Championship. It won’t begin this year; however, the future looks promising.
The Brits ran on Saturday Nov. 12, against thirty-five other teams in Oberlin, Ohio at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Meet to fight for a shot at nationals. The Albion men finished fifth while the Albion women finished tenth, though neither team qualified.
“Albion had a good day at the regional,” head coach Hayden Smith said. “The team ran very well. Evan Smallman and Amanda Miley posted personal best efforts. In addition, Paul Lewis qualified for nationals with Lauren Kettle and Amanda Weaver narrowly missing the National Championship.”
The regional meet pitted Albion against some of the best teams in the Midwest. The atmosphere was dizzying. Fans lined the entire 8 kilometers and all that could be heard was the shouting from bystanders.
Dylan Danowski, Highland first-year, spoke of the intensity of the meet.
“The race was crazy to be in,” Danowski said. “A lot of guys were pushed into poles and trampled at the start of the race; I even had to jump over two people who fell.”
The men ran strong all season, defeating rival Hope College three out of four times they’ve met, and placing high in various meets. In addition, the team placed third at the MIAA championship. The Briton’s top runner, Paul Lewis, Albion sophomore, secured a spot in the NCAA National Championship for the second consecutive year. Nationals will be held at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh on Nov. 19.
The women have had a great season as well. They had their highest regional finish in ten years placing 10th. The Lady Brits placed third in the MIAA Championship behind Calvin College and Hope, both ranked in the top 15 nationally.
Three Albion runners earned all-Regional status by placing in the top 35 in the regional meet. This status was earned by Lauren Kettle, Paul Lewis, and Amanda Weaver. In the 6k, Kettle finished with a time of 22:16:23 and Weaver ended with a 22:25:11. Lewis clocked in a 25:28:38 in an 8k race.
Despite missing out on nationals, the team gained valuable experience that will lead to success in the future.
“This tough break is going to help us work harder during track and in the summer in order to step up our game for next year,” Danowski said. “We went out there and ran for each other, through the pain, and that’s all that we can ask for in one another.”
Returning runners next year will have a good taste for the team’s collectiveness and look forward to powering through next season as a single unit.
“What I’ve taken from my first year running is that the team really is a family. We run together, and that helped me make a family relationship with everyone on the team,” Dankowski said.
The goal will always remain the same—to make it to nationals.
“With the talent returning next year,” Smith said, “both the men and the women will be striving to qualify for the National Championship.”
Photo courtesy of Albion College Sports Information