Fall sports student-athletes display determination, athleticism in Homecoming’s Grit Games

Women’s soccer player Eduarda Da Silva and men’s rugby players Jonah Faneuf and Jack Tellifson won individual championships at the Grit Games, an obstacle-course competition inaugurated during this past weekend’s virtual Homecoming celebration.

Twenty-two athletes from Norwich’s fall varsity athletic teams — men’s and women’s cross-country, football, men’s and women’s rugby, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball — competed Saturday in the games, created with help from the Norwich University Semper Fidelis Society. All eight fall teams fielded three athletes each, except for women’s cross country, which fielded one.

Competition took place in two-person heats on the campus’s U.S. Marine Corps Obstacle Course near the Vermont National Guard building. Events included log hurdles; wall vaults; two-by-four balance walks; log flips; jumping burpees; bear crawls; sandbag hauls and finishing sprints, occasionally run during intermittent rain.

Twenty-two athletes from Norwich’s fall varsity athletic teams competed in the Grit Games.

The heats’ overall top finishers reran the course during the final, when it rained the hardest, adding a low crawl as an event.

The games were viewable on NUTV, a combination of live and recorded programming streamed on the Alumni and Family Relations Office’s web and Facebook pages. Viewers tuned in, and checked in on a chat window, from Prattville, Alabama; Carmel, New York; Weston, Florida; and other sites.

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Norwich University fall sports athletes vaulted walls, lugged sandbags, crawled and sprinted during the Grit Games during Homecoming 2020. (Photo by Mark Collier.)

Homecoming, themed “From the Hill to Your Home,” was held virtually this year with campus closed to visitors because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The team competition used “cross-country scoring,” assigning points to each place. First place earned one point, second place earned two points and so on. The lowest team score won. The men's rugby team swept the top three times in the men’s team category to earn the lowest possible team score, six. The women's soccer team (12 points) edged the women's rugby team (13 points) for the women's team title.

Tellifson, a junior from Bow, New Hampshire, recorded the day’s fastest time with 1 minute, 39.33 seconds. Faneuf, a senior from Wake Forest, North Carolina, finished in 1:44.24. Their rugby teammate, Leo Clayburgh, a  sophomore from Brussels, Belgium, finished in 1:44.54.

Tellifson and Faneuf, who’d had the two fastest times, met in the men’s final and finished in a dead heat at 2:18.10. 

Soaked, but stoked

The rain was harder to take than the added low crawl, Faneuf said in a postrace interview with Norwich Athletics Communications Multimedia Specialist Tanner Acebo.

“When I was a little kid, that’s how I used to go down the stairs, so it worked out great,” Faneuf said, describing the low crawl. “But I’m soaked now, not a huge fan of that.”

But he was glad his mother tuned in for the livestream.

“Love you, Mom,” Faneuf said as he left the interview lectern.

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The Semper Fidelis Society designed the events student-athletes would complete during the Grit Games. The society usually runs the Levy Challenge fundraiser in the fall, but the coronavirus pandemic forced its cancellation. (Photo by Mark Collier.)

Emily Ngo, a women’s rugby sophomore from Turlock, California, recorded the day’s fastest women's time, 2:38.77. Da Silva had the second-fastest women’s time, in 2:39.76, and volleyball senior Kathryn Farnum of North Andover, Massachusetts, finished with the third-fastest women’s time, 2:42.06. 

Da Silva defeated women’s soccer teammate Tara Grogan, a sophomore from Statesville, North Carolina, in the women’s final with a time of 3:04.41. Ngo was unable to compete in the final and Farnum was mistakenly scored with a slower initial time before the women’s final was run.

The student-athletes seemed to enjoy themselves.

“It was challenging,” sophomore women’s rugby player Caitlin Burke said, adding that her nervousness melted when her heat started. “It was a lot of fun hearing the other athletes cheering us on.”

Clayburgh said of the course, “It was definitely a smoker. Honestly, it seemed a little easier than it actually was. The (log) flips kind of smoked your legs, then you still had to do burpees.

“So, yeah, (it) got your heart pumping.”

Norwich University Athletics contributed to this report.

WATCH: The Grit Games at Homecoming 2020

(Slideshow photos by Mark Collier.)

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Men's Results 
1. Jack Tellifson, men's rugby 1:39.33
2. Jonah Faneuf, men’s rugby 1:44.24
3. Leo Clayburgh, men’s rugby 1:44.54
4. Trevor Chase, football 1:48.30
5. Bryce Sullenger, men's soccer 1:49.10
6. Ben Wasco, men’s soccer 1:50.21
7. Noah Knight, football 1:54.57
8. Bill White, mens cross-country 1:57:69
9. Dominic Girard, men's cross-country 2:08.29
10. Nate Statires, men's soccer 2:11.76
11. Avantaye Salomon, football 2:12.61  
12. Nate Jones, men’s cross-country 2:42.13

Women's Results
1. Emily Ngo, women’s rugby 2:38.77
2. Eduarda Da Silva, women’s soccer 2:39.76
3. Kathryn Farnum, volleyball 2:42.06
4. Tara Grogan, women’s soccer 2:46.30
5. Caitlin Burke, women's rugby 2:53.76
6. Juliet Sear, women's soccer 3:10.30
7. Bianca Klepper, women’s rugby 3:17.61
8. Marisa Brandon, women’s cross-country 3:34.29
9. Sarah Farnum, volleyball 3:45.06
10. Padayissa Fecu, volleyball 4:48.98

Men's Team Results
1. Men's rugby – 6
2. Men’s soccer – 21
3. Football – 22
4. Men’s cross-country – 29 

Women's Team Results
1. Women’s soccer – 12
2. Women’s rugby – 13
3. Volleyball – 22
4. Women’s cross-country - Incomplete

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