Cross country teams fall short at MAC championships

Sean Ammerman

The men’s and women’s cross country teams both fell short of winning their conferences at the Mid-American Conference Championships in Dekalb, Ill. Saturday.

With a score of 120 points, the men finished fourth overall behind Eastern Michigan (39), Miami of Ohio (64) and Ohio (101).

“I’m not disappointed; I would just like to expect more,” track and field coach Bill Lawson said about the meet. “They came out and raced hard.”

Junior Seth Hutchinson led the men by placing eighth with the time 24:59. This garnered him an All-MAC second team honor.

Also placing for the team were senior Matt Cornwell (24th, 25:57), sophomore Ray Armstrong (26th, 26:04), freshmen Joe Parker (30th, 26:15) and Tony Jordanek (32th, 26:19).

Lawson said the team’s plan for the race was to keep everyone running together while focusing on keeping a controlled pace.

While the team did a good job of following the plan, Lawson said, if the team had “executed it perfectly,” the men could have beat Ohio and challenged Miami.

“The teams that win all have runners close to their number one,” Hutchinson said. “Our gap from one to five was far too large.”

The women, who were the defending MAC champions, finished with 183 points and tied for seventh with Central Michigan.

Winning the women’s race was cross-town rival Akron who totaled 41 points.

Finishing first for the women was senior Molly Hammer, who earned All-MAC first team honors by placing seventh at 17:51.

Placing after her for the women were junior Stephanie Blackstone (23rd, 18:38), senior Jeanna Fascione (48th, 19:12), freshman Sarah McCort (50th, 19:44) and junior Tiffany Brenneman (55th, 19:20).

This was Fascione’s second race back after a leg injury that has plagued her all season. Lawson said it was remarkable she was able to compete as well as she did.

The women’s team was disappointed with their overall finish, Brenneman said, but with a younger team marred by injuries, they understood that they were up against strong odds for repeating last year’s MAC championship.

Like the men’s team, the women had problems closing the time gap between the number one and five runners.

“The biggest difference (from last year) is that our team is really young,” she said. “We didn’t have all the drama. There wasn’t the pressure of being reigning champs and preseason favorites.”

Another difference from last year is the coaching changes, which include the losses of former Kent State coach Wendel McRaven and interim coach Brad Hunt, and then gaining Lawson.

“It’s been a roller coaster ride for these kids, both the men and women,” Lawson said. “They have done an outstanding job of keeping it together.”

The teams have chance to redeem themselves at the NCAA Regionals in Bloomington, Ind. on Nov. 12. This time, however, they will face the entire Great Lakes region, which includes six teams ranked nationally in the top 30 according to the Oct. 18 NCAA cross country polls.

Hutchinson said the teams want to keep practices lighter for the next two weeks to keep the runners fresher for the next race.

“No training at this point in the season will make us better for the regionals,” he said. “All we can do at this point is rest up and stay healthy.”

Contact cross country reporter Sean Ammerman at [email protected].