Wooster XC Surprises at Conference Championship Meet

Both the Wooster men’s and women’s cross country teams had standout performances at the NCAC Championships. Image courtesy of Wooster Athletics.
Matthew McMorrough, Contributing Writer

It was a cool, clear day in Wooster, as the Scots’ runners hit the L.C. Boles Golf Course ready to run on Saturday, Oct. 29. It was time for the Wooster-hosted NCAC Championships. “It is always a special occasion to host the conference meet at Wooster,” said Mihalis Protopapadakis ’25. “Our course is particularly harsh and hilly — by far the hardest 8k we have raced this season — and mental toughness is very important in such an environment,” continued Protopapadakis. Lily Baker ’25 also highlighted the mental fortitude needed to succeed, noting that, “because it was a conference meet, anxiety was high for everyone and it made the atmosphere tense for the team.”

The men’s team scored 147 points for a sixth place finish, with Oberlin College taking the men’s title at 44 points. This was a higher placing than was projected by the coaches poll, which predicted that the Scots’ men would finish in last place. Meanwhile, the women’s team finished the meet with 167 points, taking seventh place, with Wittenberg winning the women’s NCAC title with 39 points.

Will Callender ’25 earned second team honors the second time in a row, finishing 14th place in the men’s race with a time of 27:33.8. Ben Nichols ’25, meanwhile, earned his first All-NCAC Honors on the third team, coming in 19th with a time of 27:41.1. Drew Robertson ’25 came in approximately three seconds shy of third team honors, coming in 22nd place with a time of 27:52.5 time. Eric Johnson ’25 (52nd, 29:27.4) and Duncan Hardy ’24 (64th, 30:12.7) rounded out the team’s top five. Other runners for the Scots were Mitchell Ecklund ’24 (74th, 30:58.6), Mihail Protopapadakis (75th, 30:59.2) and Joe Ahmann ’26 (77th, 31:15), respectively.

For the women’s team, Isabelle Hoover ’23 was fourth place in the women’s race with a time of 23:54.9, earning All-NCAC First Team honors for the fourth time in her career. This was the highest finish for a Wooster Scot in the NCAC Championships since 2006, when Katie Wieferich ’07 came in first place. Igna Mendez ’25 (44th, 26:56.7) finished second for the Scots, with Isabelle Dwyer ’25 close behind at (60th place 28:37.1). Additionally, Jessie Breth ’25 (61st place, 28:45), Julianna Fiori ’25 (65th, 29:48), Brianna Becerra ’25 (68th, (30:33.6), Lily Baker (69th, 30:56.3), Kira Boyce ’23 (70th, 30:58.3) and Judith Topham ’23 (71st, 31:55.6) ran for Wooster, all finishing in a close pack.

With regards to what set this meet apart from others, Baker noted, “the course was very difficult and there was a ton of support from the people who were at the meet that really helped.” Continuing on the topic of helpfulness and teamwork, something integral to every sport, she remarked, “I had a rough time after the meet and three of my teammates sat with me and made me feel supported and loved!”

Protopapadakis had a similar sentiment, thoughtfully saying, “a nice aspect of hosting the Conference meet is that we have our whole team and friends cheering us on.” Furthermore, Protopapadakis thought that “teamwork is very important in cross-country, especially in a course like this, and strategies like taking turns leading or pack running can make a real impact.”

Wooster’s final home meet takes place on Friday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m., when the team will compete in the Wooster Twilight 5K Challenge at John P. Papp Stadium. Come out and show your support for the Scots’ runners! 

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