Cross country looks to achieve goals in MAC Championship

Thomas Gallick

The cross country team will travel to Mount Pleasant, Mich., tomorrow to compete in the Mid-American Conference Championships and determine the conference standings.

Kent State coach Mark Croghan instilled the goal of finishing high in the MAC Championships as soon as it started practicing. He said his season-long goals for the team included a top-five finish for the women in the event, and a top-two finish for the men.

Croghan said he thinks both teams are in the places they need to be in order to run successfully this weekend.

“Our training has gone well, but we still need to run good races on both sides,” Croghan said. “We just need to get out there and run the races we’ve planned.”

At last year’s MAC Championships, the men’s team finished third, and the women’s team finished 10th. Croghan hopes the team can improve upon its marks.

Leading the way at this year’s event will likely be the underclassmen, including freshman Scott Hilditch and sophomore Aiman Scullion on the men’s side, and sophomore Kelly Gephart and freshman Kassandra Meholick on the women’s side.

Hilditch finished first among the Flashes this year at the Falcon Invitational and the Notre Dame Invitational, while Scullion won the individual race outright at the Lock Haven Invitational.

Meholick recorded the top finish for the women’s team in every event this season, with Gephart taking second place among the team each time.

Croghan said he did not think the underclassmen, even the freshmen who have never competed in the MAC Championships, would be overwhelmed by the importance of the event.

“I would liken it to running at the All-Ohio Championships, but really the freshmen just need to treat it like any other race we’ve competed in this year,” Croghan said.

The men’s team finished in seventh place overall, behind MAC rivals Akron and Ohio, at the All-Ohio Championship. The women finished in ninth place overall behind Akron, Bowling Green, Miami and Ohio.

Both teams fared better at the Falcon Invitational, hosted by Bowling Green on Oct. 13, the team’s last event. The men’s team won the tournament, while the women came in fifth place in the event, which Croghan said the team scheduled at the last minute to prepare against MAC competition.

Meholick, who recorded a tenth place finish at the Falcon Invitational, said the off-week could only help the team, as long as the runners did not get anxious about this important event.

“I think the week off was a good thing because you can only run so many races and it gives you a lot of time to think,” Meholick said. “A lot of my teammates tell me not to get nervous and just stick to our plan.”

Meholick said even if the team does not meet its goals in the MAC, the cross country program has accomplished a great deal this season.

“I think we’ve taken a big step ahead of where the team was last year and individuals have improved,” Meholick said.

Contact cross country reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected].