Cross country to face best of Ohio this Friday

Richie Mulhall

The Kent State cross country team will go head-to-head with the best competition the state of Ohio has to offer Friday as it travels to Cedarville to compete in the All-Ohio Championships hosted by Cedarville University.

The women’s team is coming off a successful performance at the Iona Meet of Champions, hosted by Iona College, on Sept. 20.

The women took fifth overall out of 20 teams with 170 team points and posted a team time of 1:58.36 on the 6k course.

The team was paced by senior leader Kelsey McAlpine, who recorded the best finish on the women’s side with a time of 22:47.21. She placed 11th out of 164 runners. McAlpine’s teammate, junior Rachel Slingluff, finished right on her heels in 15th place with a time of 22:53.37.

“Kelsey and Rachel ran extremely well, running as far up in the pack as they did,” Kent State cross country coach Mark Croghan said.

Croghan said his goal for the women’s team for this week’s meet is to close a few of the gaps that have been forming in the bulk of the lineup.

“I’m hoping on the ladies’ side we can pack it up a little bit,” Croghan said. “I thought three through seven we were packed pretty tightly — I’d like to see our three through seven be a little closer to where Kelsey and Rachel are.”

Croghan said he’s confident the women will be able to keep up with McAlpine and Slingluff as the season progresses.

“On the ladies side we have a nice mix of veterans and freshmen, so it’s nice for these freshmen and sophomores to take their cue from what the upperclassmen are doing,” Croghan said.

On the men’s side, the only Flash that broke the top 15 at Iona was fifth-year senior Matt Kahl, who led the team with a time of 26:11.22. Kahl crossed the finish line in 13th place out of 208 runners on the 8k course.

At the Iona meet, Croghan thought the men’s side ran a little too conservative, so he hopes that some of them will finally break out of their comfort zone at the All-Ohio meet and inch closer to Kahl and the front of the pack.

“It was difficult for us to close that gap in the later stages of the race, especially with all the hills so we’ll try to be a little more aggressive this week in the early going and shorten up those gaps between where our two, three, four and five guys are versus where Matt (Kahl) is,” Croghan said.

In regard to the difficulty level of the course Friday, Croghan said the course shouldn’t pose as big of an uphill challenge as Iona’s course. He called the course a “garden variety” course that “runs fair” and “considerably faster than Iona” and has a little bit of everything.

“This week will be very similar to Iona,” Croghan said. “I think it’s good preparation for the pre-national meet the weekend after for the regional meet at the end of the season, so hopefully Iona kind of opened our eyes to that type of race and the importance of getting out there early and continually working to where you want to be to finish things out in the later stages of the race.”

The women’s 6k race will begin at 2 p.m. and the men’s 8k race is slated for 2:45 p.m.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].