Cross country looks past preseason rankings

Doug Gulasy

As cross country coach Mark Croghan prepares for his first full season on the job, he can sense that things are beginning to come together for his teams.

“I’m very pleased with the amount of preparation that these student-athletes have put in over the summer,” said Croghan, who coaches both the men’s and women’s teams. “You can tell that they’re very dedicated, and they’re motivated to win the MAC this year.”

Last year, the men’s team finished fourth at the Mid-American Conference Championships and 15th at the NCAA Regionals. The women’s team finished tied for seventh in the MAC and 15th at the regionals. Croghan expects that to improve this season.

“We’ve set some lofty goals for ourselves this season,” Croghan said. “We’d like very much to win the MAC, and we also hope to go to the NCAA Championships. To do that, we have to finish in the top six at Regionals.”

Leading both teams this year are the team captains and a bevy of other experienced runners. Captains for the women are seniors Stephanie Blackstone and Tiffany Brenneman, and captaining the men’s squad are seniors Ben Weitmarschen and Seth Hutchinson, an all-MAC second-team selection last year.

“Certainly we’ll be looking to our captains for leadership, but for us to be successful we need to be good as a team,” Croghan said. “It’s not just the top two runners that need to be good for us to win, but also runners three through seven. I’m very pleased that we have a lot of good depth, and I believe that we will be successful for that reason.”

However, both teams will have a lot of work to do: The men’s team was tabbed to finish fourth in the MAC in a recent coach’s poll, and the women were picked to finish seventh.

“I don’t put much stock in rankings,” Croghan said. “We set our own goals, and at the end of the day, we believe we’re good enough to win.”

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].


Sept. 15 – Women @ Ohio State

Sept. 16 – Men @ Ohio State

Sept. 23 – @ Spiked Shoe Invitational, State College, Penn.

Oct. 14 – @ Pre National Meet, Terre Haute, Ind.

Oct. 20 – Short Course Meet

Oct. 28 – @ MAC Championships, Buffalo, N.Y.

Nov. 11 – @ NCAA Championships, Terre Haute, Ind.