VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - With 40 degree temperatures and 30+ mph winds gusting across the runways of the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) men's and women's cross country programs prepared themselves to compete for a 2019 USCAA Cross Country National Championship.
Women's cross country began its race with a shotgun at 10:00 a.m. ET...6K later, the SMWC women's cross country team was 2019 USCAA Women's Cross Country National Champions. With the National Title in the books, the program sees its first Championship under the direction of head coach Zach Whikanack and its first top finish at Nationals since the 2010 season.
"When I took over the program four years ago a National Championship was the goal." head coach Zach Whitkanack said, "Now, the goal is to continue growing the program and developing our runners."
Whitkanack believes this was a team effort and that it was an earned victory, "The women's team was just a great group effort! They are a very focused and hard-working group!"
The Woods was led by Kayla Coryea, Zoe Trausch, Breanna Barger, and Kendyll Schulz, all who finished the 6K as USCAA First Team All-Americans. Coryea, who finished as the USCAA Individual Champion Runner-Up and Trausch, broke the existing 6K school record with times of 22:53.82 and 22:55.18. Barger finished with a time of 23:29.15 while Schulz notched a 24.01.17 run.
Emily Truax, Kathryn White, Emma Fey, Patricia Henney, and Elyse Hunger, each finished in the Top 25.
Coryea was happy to celebrate with her teammates, "It was exactly what we wanted and we were super excited to celebrate our win. We did exactly what we hoped and trained for and I'm so proud of our girls for how we competed. I wouldn't have asked for a better race!"
Having broken the school record with her Individual Runner-Up finished, Coryea had this goal in mind, "Personally, I am glad that I was able to accomplish my season goals this season. Being Runner-Up at Nationals was such a huge opportunity and honor, I could not have done it without my teammates!"
Beginning next season coming off of a big race, Coryea is happy, "I got a huge PR in the 6K, I never thought I could break 23 minutes but I did and I'm so excited for what's to come next year. I also want to thank Zoe Trausch for all she's done for me this season, I wouldn't have done so well without her! We're all very excited to come home and celebrate this amazing opportunity!"
True freshman Zoe Trausch had an amazing race as well, she was excited and knew the team had accomplished its season's goal, "It's very exciting to win a National Championship as a true freshman on the team. It has been our team's goal ever since the beginning of the season. We had the opportunity to prove ourselves and all the training we have put in this season. We were able to successfully reach our goal and I couldn't be prouder of our team."
Kathryn White, a first-season runner for the women's cross country team and transfer from women's basketball team had a big impact as well, "Coming in this season, I didn't know what to expect. I knew we were going to be good, everyone was hungry for the National Title after coming in second last year. I'm excited I was able to be apart of that!" White added her excitement for next year, "Looking forward to next season, I think we're all ready to defend the title. We have a great group of girls that work and train hard. I can't wait to see what we do in the future!"
After the women's 6K race concluded, it was the men's cross country's team's opportunity to represent the Woods; and they did just that.
SMWC men's cross country notched a fourth-place finish in the National Championship 8K behind senior Brennan Guido and junior Brady Page. Guido, the Pomeroys top-runner all season long did not disappoint in his season finale as he took home USCAA First Team All-American honors. He finished fourth place with a time of 26:41.50, the men's cross country program will greatly miss his incredible speed, consistency, and leadership.
Page finished in ninth place running a 27:21.49 which locked him in with a Second Team All-American spot. Parker Nuest also helped the Pomeroys to their top-four finish as he notched a 17th place spot and time of 27:45.94.
Guido had one motto coming into today's race, "One last ride..." The senior knew the day would be full of emotions but that did not keep him from being at his best but he is not sure the full effect of being a senior has set in, "I don't think it has hit me completely just yet as far as it being over. It was definitely a bittersweet day today knowing that it was the last time I was gonna lace up my spikes in my cross country career."
"Running with my guys one last time was definitely a great experience and I think we all knew that," mentioned Guido.
Page's big race could not have come at a better time for SMWC, it also earned him All-American honors, "It feels awesome to have earned All-American status. All of the guys have been pushing me hard all season in every workout, so I knew my physical fitness was coming around but it's always such a mental battle at Nationals. It felt good to finally have everything fall into place and to be able to place in the Top 14"
Page knows this was not what the team had in mind but he appreciates the great season, "It wasn't the team outcome we wanted, but we left it all out on the course and I'm so proud of all of the guys. We've had a phenomenal season, and everyone has put in the work everyday which makes training with these guys so much fun." He knows that next season has some big things in store, "Now that we know what we're capable of, we're definitely going to use this as fuel to come back to Nationals even stronger next year."
He also had a special message for teammate Brenna Guido, "Shoutout to my First Team All-American teammate Guido, although it's his last race with us since he's a senior, I know he'll succeed in whatever he chooses to do after college."
Head Coach Zach Whitkanack spoke about Guido and Page, "It was nice to see senior Brennan Guido have a great race. I also thought Brady Page had an excellent race." Per usual, Whitkanack is already thinking about the successes to come next season, "Now it is time for Brady and Parker to lead their team back to the podium next fall!"