Consistent success year-over-year has been the hallmark of UChicago women's cross country over the past decade. The squad has reached the NCAA Championship for eight years running, including a 14th-place showing in 2017.
Graduate Khia Kurtenbach produced a historic season, capping her career by winning the school's second individual cross country national championship. Kurtenbach was a dominant force throughout as she earned her third-straight All-American honor while also snagging the NCAA Midwest Regional and University Athletic Association titles.
Even with Kurtenbach's graduation, Hall sees her impact living on.
"It always created a level of confidence knowing we had someone that could win any race we entered," Hall said. "It took a bit of pressure off some of the other scorers on our team. What I hope rubbed off on the rest of our team wasn't just the way she competed, but the fact that she ran for her teammates. Khia really helped to create a wonderful culture on our team and I would like to continue to see that grow."
Led by a strong five-deep senior class, the Maroons took second at UAAs and fifth at the NCAA Midwest Regional in 2017. Now the squad will be looking for new faces to rise to the top of the pack. Junior Maggie Boudreau, junior Claire Brockway and sophomore Abigail Shoemaker were all consistent placers in last year's top seven. Boudreau received All-Region status as well.
Youth was served on the 2017 UChicago men's team. The rookies stepped up to the challenge and provided contributions right away throughout the top seven. Ryan Cutter led the pack consistently, finishing as the squad's top finisher in four of his six races. He ended up with Second Team All-UAA accolades and fellow first-year Jordan Olson recorded a First Team All-UAA finish at the UAA Championship race.
Hall attributed Cutter and Olson's highly-competitive approaches as key to their breakouts.
"Both have a great deal of confidence in their ability and I feel that they also helped to push each other not just in competition, but daily in practice," said Hall. "It's rare to see first-years adjust so quickly to the 8K distance. Ryan was able to take another step forward during track season as Jordan battled a lot of sickness in the spring. They have both had strong summers and seem very motivated to move forward."
The Maroons return much of their scoring lineup from last year, including consistent scorers like junior Ralph Patejunas, senior Jacob Gosselin, junior Andrew Kates and sophomore Chase Gardner. Patejunas was the team's top finisher at the 2017 NCAA Midwest Regional, taking 33rd overall. UChicago placed fifth at UAAs and sixth at the NCAA Midwest Regional.