Teams race through first meet

Sean Ammerman

Despite missing some of their top runners, the Kent State men’s and women’s cross country teams started the season off strong Saturday at the Miami Invitational.

The men’s team finished first overall with a score of 42 points, narrowly defeating Miami with 44 points.

Rounding out the field was Malone, followed by Cincinnati, Cedarville, Cumberland and Wright State with 66, 87, 150, 170 and 206 points respectively.

“It was a fantastic team effort,” interim coach Brad Hunt said. “Today proved how hard these guys have worked in the summer.”

Leading the way was junior Seth Hutchinson placing second overall with a time of 25:32:59.

Hutchinson was leading the pack, but with 200 meters left in the race he slipped and fell at one of the final turns in the course.

“It was a 90 degree turn for Seth,” Hunt said. “I believe he may have been able to win it.”

Also placing for Kent State were Ben Weitmarchen, Kyle Bowman, Joe Parker and Dan Klatt at eighth, ninth, 10th and 13th.

Missing from action was senior Matt Cornwell and junior Ryan Spellmen, who were both pivotal members of last year’s third ranked conference team.

Hunt said both players are experiencing set-backs and are expected to return as soon possible.

“We’re being patient,” Hunt said. “And with the team we have, we have plenty of time.”

On the women’s side, Kent finished fifth with a score of 116 behind Cincinnati, Eastern Kentucky, Malone and Miami with 54, 56, 67 and 75 points respectively, but finished over Wright State and Cumberland with 157 and 184 points respectively.

Kent State senior Molly Hammer placed first overall for the women with a time of 18:29:75. She won with a surge in the last 50 meters, narrowly beating Malone’s Joanna Genter by two-tenths of a second.

This is an impressive start for Hammer who placed 15th in her last race at the Mid-American Conference Championships.

“She has set herself up to be extremely successful,” Hunt said. “She’s as fit as any girl I’ve seen in a girls’ unit.”

After Hammer, Kent State’s Stephanie Blackstone finished at the number 12 spot, Brittany Durkin took the 25th place, Tiffany Brenneman finished at number 39 and Tasha Modranski ended at the number 46 spot.

“We ran a very young, inexperienced team,” Hunt said. “Half of them were running in a Kent State uniform for the first time.”

Missing were the women’s number one and two runners, seniors Jeanna Fascione and Melinda Kiss. Both are expected to be back in the lineup soon.

Nevertheless, Hunt feels the women are stepping in the right direction to defend their MAC title from a year ago.

For both the men and women, they were the only team in the invitational running their first race Saturday. Considering this, Hunt said that he felt the teams got off to a promising start.

Both the men’s and women’s next races will be Saturday at the Red Flash Invitational in St. Francis, Penn.

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