After heading to San Angelo on Saturday for the Lone Star Conference Championships, ACU men’s cross country faced its first defeat in 20 years.
Spenser Lynn, sophomore from White Oak, and William Pike, sophomore from Newnan, Ga., ran on the team that won the 19th LSC title two years ago. Pike was also part of last year’s 20th championship. Lynn said they’ve been on a winning team and to lose isn’t acceptable.
“We know we failed in our objective to defend our LSC championship and extend the winning streak to 21 years,” said Lynn. “Not everyone is satisfied with the race they ran, and we have to closely examine why that’s the case. In a way, I feel like we let down the men who came before us and won so many titles.”
Freshman Fabian Wessel-Terharn, from Everswinkel, Germany, led the Wildcats with a fifth place win. Teammates Lynn, Erik Forrister, Pike and Marshall Holland followed, all grabbing a top-20 spot.
Eastern New Mexico University took hold of the LSC title. Lynn said ENMU performed “spectacularly” and demonstrated that they deserved the gold. The men of ENMU made vast improvements in the past few years, and this year, their hard work paid off.
ACU men’s team was dealt an unfortunate hand, with three top runners unable to race a majority of the season due to injury. Lynn said Achilles tendonitis took him out of training for 16 months. It wasn’t until a week before school started that he was able to get back on track. However, more muscular problems earlier this season prevented him from achieving the fitness level he desired for the LSC race.
“I went in with confidence in what I had. In essence, I was playing the ‘fake it until you make it’ card and hoping it all worked out.”
Lynn believed the team reached a point where it took victory for granted, thinking because the runners from past years worked hard to win, victory was a guarantee. He hopes the loss will serve as a wake up call for the team, so it can grow closer together and make the necessary sacrifices to return to its winning ways.
“I see this defeat as an opportunity for this program to grow and reach new heights rather than the turning point which future ACU runners will look back on and say ‘that was when the glory days ended.'”
Chloe Susset, a junior from France who won the silver medal for ACU women, said cross country had less recruits this year and it makes no sense to compare the results of this season’s outcome to past years.
“Everyone has to understand we aren’t running with the same team every year,” Susset said. “We have a great coach, and the guys train hard and are improving. We need to remember that with the athletes we had, the guys still got second behind maybe the best team of the region.”
With the women’s team coming in fourth place overall, Susset said it won’t be competing at Regional’s. However, she thinks the team will be more in its element during indoor track.