Mudry, Eckstrom shine for men's cross country

By Carly Klingensmith

Do you huff and puff and sweat profusely after running a mile or two, possible three? Do you feel like you have accomplished a great feat and can help yourself to a little extra dessert at dinner? I know I do. The men’s cross country team, with some runners racking up 90 to 100 miles per week, would beg to differ.
Cross country has had a pretty successful season so far, led by top runners Martin Mudry ’09 and Wade Eckstrom ’10. There have been five meets so far, ranging in location from Grinnell to Northfield to Colfax, Wisc. The team has finished mainly within in the middle to top third of the pack.

Until the 2007 season where they dropped to eighth, the team had been consistently placing fourth in the MIAC conference. Senior captain Franz Meyer ’09 hopes to reclaim their fourth place finish this season.

“This season our goal is fourth and although it is going to be tough, it is the best goal to have,” Meyer said.

The team has been training hard in the off-season to make this goal a reality.

“Over the summer I ran more than I have run before in my entire life,” said Meyer ’09. “Everyone did their homework over the summer, and we are stronger, faster and more mentally tough.”

The highlight of the season thus far was the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Blugold Invitational on Oct. 3 in Colfax. Meyer expressed his delight with the results of the meet.

“After four weeks of hard work, almost every person on the team ran a personal best,” Meyer said.

While the team finished 11th out of 19 teams, Mudry and Ekstrom both finished in the top five out of 300 runners. Ekstrom finished fifth with a time of 25:33 and Mudry finished second with a time of 25:06.21. With these two times, Mudry now has the third fastest time in program history and Eckstrom moved into fourth place on all-time honor roll.

Mudry believes that not putting too much pressure on himself, focusing on other things alongside running and enjoying running has helped him be extremely successful this season.

“Last summer, I was training intensively in Kenya and the season went okay. This summer I trained, but I also taught and traveled in South America. For the first time, running was not my focus,” Mudry said.

This strategy is evidently working out well and Mudry, as well as the rest of the team, is running faster and getting stronger with each race.

The cross country team lost nine seniors last year and have only added five new runners: Carl Biggers ’12, Oliver St. John ’12, Peter Steele ’12, Spencer Retelle ’11, and Jamal Malik ’09. As a result, in addition to becoming better runners, part of the season has been has been focused on building a cohesive team. Meyer believes this is one of his roles as team captain.

“I try to strengthen team bonds, so when it is race day we can all count on each other,” Meyer said.

Mudry also comments on new dynamics of the team, with the loss of so many seniors.
“When we first met, the team felt so small, but we have bonded pretty well,” Mudry said.

There are only two meets left before regions on Nov. 15 and nationals on Nov. 22. The upcoming MIAC Championships at Como Park in St. Paul on Nov. 1 may become the new highlight of the season.

“It is the last race for the entire team together and it is the biggest race of the year,” Meyer said.