By Ben Jones for LetsRun.com
November 21, 2015. Published November 23, 2015.
OSHKOSH, Wis. — Snow was on every team’s mind at daybreak Saturday in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. But the storm that pummeled the upper Midwest swung well south of Lake Breeze Golf Club, site of the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships.
With weather in the upper 20s, racing was as good as it gets in Wisconsin in November for the 64 teams and 112 individual qualifiers and, with the exception of a small tumble on the men’s race at 400 meters that resulted in a runner reportedly needing stitches on his back, spikes only touched grass. On the grass, UW-Platteville’s Ian LaMere dominated the men’s race as UW-Eau Claire edged Williams for the team title. In the women’s race, Johns Hopkins’ three-year run came to an end as Williams dominated and Cornell College junior Abrah Masterson was the surprise individual winner.
Men’s race: Ian LaMere Dominates, Wisconsin Eau Claire Hangs On
The men’s 8K race quickly became two races. As the field passed the first kilometer, UW-Platteville junior Ian LaMere made a move and never looked back. By 5K, which LaMere rolled in 14:35, he was alone, leading a large chase pack by a full 40 seconds. LaMere maintained that massive margin through the finish (23:35).
LaMere said he followed the same basic race plan that led him to conference and regional wins.
“I don’t have the best of kicks so trying to run away was my solution to that,” he said. “I started right when we went around the corner after the first K and then I hoped I could get away.”
LaMere said he only looked back after crossing the finish. His view: hundreds of yards of empty grass.
“It’s scary,” LaMere said. “There are a lot of good runners out here. This is nationals…you know everybody out there is good. You just hope you can be better than them on this day.”
UW-Eau Claire junior Josh Thorson broke away from the rest of the field to take second – 40 seconds behind LaMere (24:15) – ahead of Williams senior Bijan Mazaheri (24:21), North Central junior Zach Plank (24:26) and St. Olaf junior Jake Campbell (24:31)
Top-ranked UW-Eau Claire captured the team title with 135 points, followed by Williams (144), Geneseo State (209) and St. Olaf (211). North Central, which won four team titles in the last five years, including 2014, finished fifth (254).
UW-Eau Claire head coach Dan Schwamberger said he was really proud of how his team executed the race.
“Everyone was kind of wondering, with the lead group, if anyone was going to go after Ian LeMere,” he said. “The pack kind of let him go.”
Schwamberger said Thorson made the right decision to stay with the pack to work through the race with teammates Ryan Mugan (11th) and Darin Lau (14th).
Schwamberger said Thorson dealt with an injured Achilles this year and was running only twice per week during the summer, cross training other days.
Thorson returned to racing form in the fall and the team stayed healthy.
“We were fortunate,” Schwamberger said. “A lot of things went well for us this year.”
Click Here for DIII Men’s Photo Gallery (257 Photos)
Top 10 Men and Teams (Click here for full results)
Women’s race: Abrah Masterson Surprises, Williams Wins Easily
The women’s 6K race was a much closer affair. The field crossed the first kilometer mat in 3:28 and as it approached 5K it was still was anyone’s race, with Ithaca sophomore Taryn Cordani leading a dense lead pack.
In the end, Cornell College junior Abrah Masterson broke away for the win in 21:23, ahead of Willamette junior Olivia Manci (21:25), Pomona-Pitzer junior Maya Weigel (21:27), Williams junior Hannah Cole (21:30) and Carleton senior Ruth Steinke (21:31).
Masterson, who finished second to Steinke in the Central Region Nov. 14, seemed shocked by her win Saturday, dropping briefly to the ground as the victory, and the effort sunk in.
Masterson said the race was fast and a little cool but she felt good.
“It was pretty cold but I think that really helped keep everybody’s mind sharp and in the race,” she said. “The ground was good and it was great racing conditions.”
Williams College easily captured its third national championship with 81 points, followed by Geneseo State (179) and MIT (182). Johns Hopkins failed to capture a fourth consecutive win, finishing fourth (188) followed by Washington University (193).
Williams head coach Peter Farwell said his women ran an “unbelievable” race on Saturday. He said the team is strong but he didn’t want it to “overshoot its bounds early.”
“I think we held back well in the beginning, were in pretty good position but not rich out front,” he said. “We moved up gradually and then the last 2K ran very, very strong, 1-7.”
Click Here for DIII Women’s Photo Gallery (185 Photos)
Top 10 Women and Teams (Click here for full results)
Ben Jones is a writer, photographer and runner based in Madison, Wis.