Beloit College's Olde English Classic: Over hills, bales and streams
BELOIT Beloit College alumni and staff won the Shoehorn Trophy over Lawrence University in the open class, while the Buccaneer women and men placed third and fifth respectively in the collegiate races Saturday at the Olde English Classic cross country meet.
For the men and women teams, the competition was one of several meets leading up to conference championships in late October. In the open class, the results were secondary to tradition.
“We salute our Lawrence University competitors,” said Beloit College President Scott Bierman, who wore bib number 1 for Team Beloit. With that, Bierman hoisted the trophy, a slab of wood containing two running shoes and a bugle.
Under crystal clear blue skies, fall colors and temperatures in the low 70s at Leeson Park on Beloit’s east side, a field of 12 schools competed around and over obstacles that define the annual meet.
“This is the 50th running for the Olde English Classic, and it remains a very unique event,” said Beloit College coach Brian Bliese. “It’s an opportunity for the runners to experience something different than the usual golf course courses.”
The “something different” Bliese referred to included two stream crossings while navigating bridges, hay bales and logs. The open class runners and the collegiate women ran a 5k course. The men ran eight kilometers.
“We are known for our steeplechase-type event, and it brings identity to the school,” Bierman said. “The runners just love competing on this type of course.”
Bierman’s Team Beloit runners included Judy Racine from Centennial, Colo., a suburb of Denver. She was in Beloit to celebrate homecoming weekend with her husband and her son, Anthony, a Beloit College student on the soccer team.
“I run a little with the dog, but this was different for me,” she said. “It’s not just the usual boring running. I knew that the first time I jumped into the water.”
The meet had the look of a collegiate athletic event with team colors and uniforms, but there was a distinct difference from other team events such as football and basketball. That difference is what makes cross country so unique, Bliese said.
“I coached football at the college level for 35 years,” said Bliese, who had stops at Carroll University and Carthage College before coming to Beloit. “I’ve coached great players including Derrick Carrier of Edgerton who now plays with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“With team sports such as football, it’s all-out every Saturday—there’s a winner and a loser,” he said. “In cross country, we compete as a team for 10 weeks for just one goal, the conference meet at the end of the season. That’s what we work toward all season as a team.”
That team ethic was obvious on the women’s team, co-captained by Geneva Schulz-Welo of Oregon and Betsy Wynn of Whitefish Bay. Schulz-Welo sat out the meet with a dislocated kneecap.
“We measure success as a team, not as individuals,” Wynn said. “We look at the results as how we finished together.”
Fourteen of the 19 women on the team started the race. The top five finishers are scored while the sixth runner from each team is scored only if needed as a tiebreaker.
Sophomore Anna Wenzel of Tillamook, Ore., topped Beloit College runners with a seventh place finish. Teammate Camilla Jackson of Newton, Mass., finished 11th.
“We all work to do the best we can, and I’m pleased with my time this year, which is better than last year,” Wenzel said. “We all want to continue to improve to get the best team result possible.”
The team concept and emphasis on the conference meet does not diminish the competitive spirit, Bliese said.
“It’s just as intense, but it’s a different type of intensity,” he said.
“And it’s just as rewarding when you see the student athletes compete and succeed.”