The Bowdoin cross country teams hosted the NCAA regional meet on Saturday. The men’s team placed seventh and women’s secured ninth overall, and men’s captain Sean MacDonald ’19, women’s captain Julia O’Rourke ’19 and rookie Delaney Bullock ’22 received at-large bids to compete in the national championship this weekend in Wisconsin.
The regional meet provides teams and individual runners the opportunity to qualify for the national meet. The top six teams qualify in their entirety, while the next seven best individual runners also qualify.
O’Rourke, who qualified in the fifth spot, and Bullock, who qualified in the seventh spot, are excited to see what this weekend brings.
“More than anything, I am excited to see what we can do with fresh legs on a totally different course and seeing teams from all over the country,” O’Rourke said.
Head Coach Peter Slovenski commended O’Rourke and Bullock’s teamwork.
“Delaney has figured out how to work well with Julia O’Rourke,” Slovenski said. “Julia and Delaney create a synergy where the two of them together are faster than either one of them individually. Delaney was from a small high school, and she was the only runner on her high school team. She never had any teammates to race with until she got to Bowdoin.”
Although the whole team will not attend the meet, MacDonald is thankful for his teammates’ support and performances all season.
“More than anything I would have loved to have the guys there,” MacDonald said. “The only reason I am in the position to even qualify is because they pushed me every day. It’s a great chance to represent the team.”
Excitement had been building for the regional meet in which all three qualified for a long time. O’Rourke can still remember the day her coach told the team that Bowdoin was hosting the regional meet.
“From that moment I have been thinking about this race,” O’Rourke said. “Knowing that it’s here and on our turf made me so amped.”
A lot of work from Bowdoin coaches and team members was put into hosting the meet. The regional meet fell on a rainy, cold day, but even with the bad weather, Bowdoin students and fans showed up to support the team. The cheers from the crowd bolstered the runners as they stepped onto the starting line.
“It does something to your psyche,” O’Rourke said. “We were feeling that we know this course and we have so many people here who are rooting for us. You get a surge of confidence.”
The weather slowed Bowdoin’s speed by muddying the course. Yet the team kept a positive mindset, and its home course advantage contributed to runners’ success in the unfavorable conditions.
“I think my teammates and I thrive in the mud,” O’Rourke said. “We wore really long spikes, which helped us feel more stable. I think our coach does such a good job of getting us prepared for loving mud and being gritty.”
“The only way the weather would have affected us more is if we had a negative attitude,” MacDonald added. “We definitely had a really positive attitude. There is always a little more element of chance when it comes to the weather but that’s what makes it fun.”
On the men’s side, considering this was their last meet, the focus was on keeping their motto “no next time” in their minds.
“We wanted to go out and feel that when we finished we had really put it all out there no matter what the result was,” said MacDonald. “We would all be happy with it if we all felt across the board that we tried our best.”
The women’s team appreciated the opportunity to participate in the meet.
“We were really trying to capture the feeling that we are able to run in this race,” O’Rourke said. “We aren’t injured, we are healthy, we are eligible, just all those things were our focus for my co-captain and I. Trying to channel gratitude as opposed to feeling extreme anxiety.”
After the regional meet brings most runners’ season to a close, the three qualifiers will travel to Oshkosh, Wisconsin tomorrow for the national championship.