Cross-Country Heads to Nationals After Strong Performances All Season

Sammy Jo Barnes '24, Sports Editor

Dickinson cross-country continues to dominate as the season draws to a close. Dickinson hosted the 2021 NCAA Division III Cross Country Regional Championships last weekend at Big Spring High School.  It was a good day for the Red Devils as they had six women and four men earn All-Region honors against 35 visiting teams.

Coach Nichter, who has been coaching cross-country at Dickinson since 1983, says it was “special” to be on the home course.

“Our athletes had an exceptional execution of the racing plan to “do the work in the hills” and a pacing strategy that had a big impact in the team scoring that changed significantly in our favor from the one mile split team score to the finish line score,” said Nichter.

Because of the Regionals success, the women’s team, consisting of Isabel Cardi, Allyson Yanega, Maddie Garber, Myra Naqvi, Sammy Jo Barnes and Liliana Matala and three individuals from the mens team, Chris Scharf, Charles Scharf, and Jacob Doherty Munro get a change to race against the best in the DIII National Championships in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday.

“I am very excited,” said senior Allyson Yanega. This will be her second time running at Nationals in her collegiate career. “It’s a goal we’ve had all season, especially since we’ve had this really long streak of making it to nationals. It’s really nice for all our work to pay off.”

Yanega was 13th overall in the Mid-Atlantic Regionals and has been a huge contender all season.

“My season so far, I think, has gone really well for me.  Personally, I’ve had some really good races and PRs that I’m really proud of,” she said. “As a team as well, we have a lot of young talent that has kept us strong and will continue to.”

Both teams have had frontrunners all season in the top tier of the conference and region: Chris and Charles Scharf for the men and Isabel Cardi and Elaina Clancy for the women.

“This makes a huge difference in a large meet to have “low stick” toward the point totals in this sport that are based on the lowest team score, the better,” said Nichter.  “The other scorers for the team have been improving all season and made a significant contribution [as well].”

Yanega agrees for the women’s team, Isabel Cardi, who has won every race she’s ran this season, is a major key player.

“Other than that, our numbers 2-5 come into a really tight pack and if one of us is ever having a bad day, someone is always there to pick up the slack. I think our depth and our closeness of our runners 2-5 is a strength,” she said.

Coach Nichter is most looking forward to seeing the hard work pay off this Saturday.

“The women are competing at the national championship for the 20th consecutive season – a remarkable accomplishment for them and a reflection of the development curve in individual runners each season in replacing the graduating class from year to year. Our three men are all-seniors and will be competing in their first ever cross-country national championship in Louisville. This is an incredible accomplishment and a function of several years of “putting in the work – in other words, the “miles” of running that it takes to elevate oneself to the national level,” he said.

No matter what happens at Nationals, this year’s cross-country season for both the men and the women is one to be proud of.

“I would like to say ROLL DEVS!” said Yanega.

“I am so blessed to be able to witness their success this season and be able to share in their comradery and fellowship as a team,” said Nichter. “After not having a season last fall and now returning to action again in 2021 everyone has had to make an adjustment and renewed commitment to their training plan.  I am proud of them and energized by their love for the sport of distance running at Dickinson. Roll Red Devils.”