Men’s cross country takes conference title, looks ahead

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Proving once again why they’re the unanimous top-ranked team in the nation, the men’s cross country team swept the top seven places at the CCIW championships to easily win their 51st conference title in program history and increase their conference streak that dates back to 1973.

This is the second year in a row, and the eighth time in history, that the Cardinals have walked away with a perfect score, but senior Zach Hird explained that wasn’t the focus.

“Instead, we often talked about positive expectations, quiet confidence, and letting the result take care of itself by staying in the process during the race,” Hird said.

Held at St. James Farm in Warrenville, with less than ideal conditions — a wind chill under 32 degrees and an increasingly muddy course — the Cardinals didn’t get distracted by the externals, instead focusing on the task at hand. Argeni Bailon said the weather wasn’t noticeable once the gun sounded, but he “definitely felt a little chilly standing at the line.”

The Cardinals have a little break from competition, their next race is the Regional Championships, Nov. 11 and then the National Championships the following weekend. As the chance to win their second straight National Championship —  and 18th total — looms in the distance, Bailon says the focus now is “to get our legs feeling sharper for the end of the season.”

Hird says that winning conference was like “climbing up another rung on the ladder” toward the ultimate goal of winning a national championship. Asked if this helped with the team’s momentum moving forward, Hird said they’ve been “in the flow since the early stages of the season. Every guy has contributed to the rapidly spinning flywheel that is our momentum from the summer on.”

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