By Victoria Gill
The Washington College Running Club came home with two extraordinary feats the weekend of Feb. 15. Sophomore Jack Dodsworth and senior Konu Gardesey participated in the club’s first indoor track meet at Susquehanna University, competing against Division-I, II, and III schools.
There the two Shoremen “left a huge impression on the collegiate running community,” according to an email from Steve Kaneshiki, the Coordinator of Campus Recreation.
Dodsworth, who is the Running Club president, placed fourth out of 24 runners in the 5,000-meter race. He came in with a time of 16:15.
“Running had been a big part of my life growing up so I wanted to meet the other members of the running community at WC and help it grow if I could,” Dodsworth said.
He joined the Running Club at the beginning of his freshman year.
“I have just taken over the reins from our former president, Elizabeth Wilson, who graduated early in the fall of this year.” he said.
The club, according to Dodsworth, tries to attend three meets per semester. Cross country meets in the fall, while track takes place in the spring. It is stressed that competition is not a requirement for their members, but a new opportunity that is offered and encouraged. Members often compete against smaller division schools throughout the mid-Atlantic, primarily from Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Frequent competitors include several of the smaller Penn State campuses — such as Harrisburg and Fayette — the University of Scranton, Shippensburg University, and Lebanon Valley College. From Maryland, Hagerstown Community College, Community College of Baltimore County, and McDaniel College are the more familiar teams. They seldom run against other Centennial Conference schools like Gettysburg and Ursinus.
This meet in particular had the chance to run against Division I athletes from Rutgers and Mount St. Mary’s.
Gardesey, out of 58 runners, places second in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.07 seconds.
Dodsworth said that this was a very prestigious achievement as it broke the meet record in that event.
“I never ran in any indoor meet before, so I wanted to see what one was like. So, Jack and I spoke to Steve about entering one and by God’s grace we were able to get into the Susquehanna Indoor Invitation. The school let us use a car and we set off at 4:30 in the morning drove about 3 and a half hours to the school. The only people to come were Jack and I,” Gardesey said.
However, these two athletes are not newcomers when it comes to track and field. Both of them trained and competed since high school.
“I ran cross country and track at Calvert High School in Prince Frederick, Md. I competed in events during the fall, winter, and spring seasons and trained over the summer. Over the past couple of years, since track or cross country are not varsity sports at WC, I have been focusing on prepping for my first marathon,” Dodsworth said.
According to both, the Running Club is beginning to serve multiple purposes for members. It offers students a chance for collegiate competition if they would like it, with the long-term goal of ultimately seeing cross-country made a varsity sport at WC.
However, both members acknowledge that this club is a place where people who want to run, to stay fit, to take in the outdoors, and just for the love of running can get together and make that happen. It is a place for anybody of any fitness or experience level.
“I have officially been a part of Running Club since last year. During my freshman year, people knew I liked to run and told me to join but I never did anything because at the time, they only did long distance running and marathons and I am a sprinter,” said Gardesey. “In the spring of last year I saw one of the members post a picture in a uniform at what looked like a track meet so I asked him about it and he told me the next meet was in two weeks and that I could come if I wanted. So, I trained for about eight to nine days and ran in the Elizabethtown meet last year in April. I do not have a leadership position, but Jack treats me like I have one.”
Based on the budget the club is given, they run in any indoor or outdoor track meet that they are allowed in. Because they are not a varsity team, they are not allowed to compete in most meets, but they seize any chance to run.
Unfortunately, even though Dodsworth and Gardesey qualified for Centennial Conference championships, they will not be able to run because WC does not have an actual track team, inevitably denying their request to participate.
They are now tentatively looking at going to Elizabethtown College on April 25.
“Everything is done at your own pace. There is no practice time or workout time, so you do everything by yourself,” Gardesey said. “I was raised in a household with strong Christian values and that is what I believe helps me to compete at the high level I do. 1 Corinthians 9: 24-26 talks about running the race to receive the prize and how you are supposed to beat your body and make it your slave so that you are not disqualified from the prize. I take this verse among many others to heart literally when I train because I do not believe my body can tell me that it is tired or that I should give up. I train the hardest I can so I can get the best results.”