Cross country looking to continue momentum against tougher competition

Brian Thursby

Pack running propels Flashes to successful start of the season

The Kent State cross country teams may have been a mob of blue and gold two weeks ago, but a similar strategy might not be possible this weekend.

With their second meet of the season tomorrow, the Flashes hope their solid beginning will carry over to the Iona Invitational in the Bronx.

After a first-place finish for the men’s team and third place for the women at the Tommy Evans Invitational in Akron two weeks ago, the Flashes’ expectations are high despite the tough competition waiting in New York.

“We’re optimistic. We are looking to compete and surprise some people,” sophomore Michael Heller said. “Miami of Ohio, Wisconsin, Navy and Iona are going to be there. We are going to do well; we are feeling confident.”


Iona invitational

Where:The Bronx, N.Y.

When:10:15 a.m. Saturday

Senior Tony Jordanek said although big teams will be at the meet, he thinks Kent State will finish strong.

“We are looking to do well, looking to put ourselves in a good position,” Jordanek said.

Sophomore Audrey Maheu also acknowledged the big competitors but said she believes the women will do well.

“There is going to be some good competition, but we are going in feeling strong,” Maheu said. “We are hoping to place in the top four.”

At their first meet, the Flashes tried to keep together to help each other pull through. The men’s team dominated with a wolf-pack strategy, placing six runners in the top 10. The same tactic might be more difficult to do at Iona because of the course make-up and number of teams competing.

“It is going to be tough to run in a group,” Heller said. “The course starts in an open field then funnels into a narrow path. Iona has a fast start, there is going to be some bumping.”

Kent State coach Mark Croghan still believes in the team approach though.

“We would still like to group up,” Croghan said. “The runners are trying to in that regard.”

The course is not a shock to the Flashes though, and both teams are confident they should be able to secure a strong position before a choke point in the course.

“We know what to expect,” Maheu said. “The course is hilly and narrow, and with all the runners it comes as a surprise as how everyone funnels into the trail.”

Jordanek said Iona will be more about the individual runner as opposed to a team approach.

“Iona will not have as much strategy as Tommy Evans,” Jordanek said. “[At Iona] you need to be smart and run to the best of your ability.”

While Iona may be about ability over strategy, Maheu said teamwork will still play a vital role.

“We are going to try to work together and pull each other through,” Maheu said. “I think being able to work together with Kelly (Gephart) and Alex (Lizarribar) will really help.”

The Flashes are confident the past two weeks of training for Iona will show other conferences, and especially the Mid-American Conference, that Kent State should be taken seriously.

While the Tommy Evans Invitational may have been the beginning of Kent State’s cross country season, Iona is the first real test for both teams.

“This is where the real season starts,” Heller said.

Contact sports reporter Brian Thursby at [email protected]