Cross-country team finishes 4th at MAC Championship

Grant Engle

The Kent State men’s cross-country team finished in fourth place at the Mid-American Conference Championship in Muncie, Ind. Saturday.

The Flashes finished strong behind Mike Heller’s performance of 24:37.5; good enough to earn the redshirt junior fourth overall and first team All-MAC honors.

Heller has placed in the top 10 in all of Kent State’s five races this season, with four of those five races resulting in top-5 finishes.

Kent State coach Mark Croghan said that Heller’s strong performances this season stem from the difficult stretch he went through in 2010.

“He didn’t run too well last outdoor season,” Croghan said. “But he put in the work over the summer and he’s had his sights set on being competitive in the MAC all year.”


new TWTR.Widget({

version: 2,

type: ‘search’,

search: ‘#KWcrosscountry’,

interval: 6000,

subject: ”,

width: 240,

height: 300,

theme: {

shell: {

background: ‘#b8b8b8’,

color: ‘#66a9c5’


tweets: {

background: ‘#b8b8b8’,

color: ‘#444444’,

links: ‘#1985b5’



features: {

scrollbar: true,

loop: true,

live: true,

hashtags: true,

timestamp: true,

avatars: true,

toptweets: true,

behavior: ‘default’



Heller, who had previously stated that it was his “mission” to finish well at the MAC Championship, said he was pleased with his performance.

“I’ve obviously been competing hard in every race this season,” Heller said. “But I was saving something extra for this one. This is the one that really matters. It’s for conference bragging rights.”

Heller said that he knew when he crossed the finish line that he was in fourth place, and that he would be named to the first team All-MAC.

“I’m really happy and really proud of my performance,” Heller said. “But I think the team ran well, too. I’m just proud of this team.”

Croghan said that he believed the range of the individual runners’ scores were too spread out for the team to “be where it wanted to be.”

“The race went pretty well,” Croghan said. “We certainly could have done some things better.”

Heller was the only Flash to finish in the top 10. He was followed by redshirt sophomore Steve Fischer, who completed the race in 24:51.5, finished 11th overall. The finish was good enough for Fischer to earn Second Team All-MAC honors.

Redshirt sophomore Daniel Bullard, who won the Ball State Invitational Oct. 14 on the same course as the MAC Championship, placed 37th with a time of 25:25.8.

Bullard said that he was surprised that three teams were able to finish ahead of the Flashes, but the team expected a challenging race.

“We knew it was going to be a dog fight out there,” Bullard said. “It wasn’t a bad performance by us. It’s just that a few teams had a little better of a day.”

The Kent State women finished ninth overall behind the 38th-place finish of redshirt sophomore Mindy Sawnor.

The MAC Championship is the first race this season that redshirt freshman Paige Foster did not lead the way for the Kent State women. Foster finished with a time of 22:43.8, a little more than three seconds behind Sawnor.

“There were a lot of good teams there, and I think we’re prepared to work hard, run as a pack and get ready for regionals.” – Mindy Sawnor

Croghan pointed out that he thought the women had a good enough team to finish sixth or seventh, but the team fell behind early and couldn’t recover.

“It’s such an aggressive race, especially for the women,” Croghan said. “If you lose focus early, it’s really tough to bounce back.”

Sawnor echoed Croghan’s sentiment that the women could have done better, but she was optimistic about the team’s future

“We wanted to finish better,” Sawnor said. “But there were a lot of good teams there, and I think we’re prepared to work hard, run as a pack and get ready for the regionals.”

The Flashes will compete in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional in Toledo Nov. 12. The tournament will feature teams from the MAC, Big 10, Big East, Atlantic 10 and several others.

Contact Grant Engle at [email protected].