Men’s cross country trips over its own feet yet still manages to set personal records

James Goddard, Reporter

In the chaos of the start of the race, sophomore Baidy Ba lost his shoe. Then he went on to set a personal best.

“Baidy lost a racing spike half a mile into the race,” coach James Croft said. “To see him run four and a half miles with one shoe was both exciting and terrifying at the same time.”

Ba finished the 8-kilometer race in 10th place with a time of 24:57.

Junior Joe Farley, who fell early in the race, led the Kent State men’s cross country team to a fourth-place finish out of 18 teams at the Spartan Invitational, hosted by Michigan State. The women’s team placed ninth.

“There were a lot of little hiccups throughout the race,” Ba said. ”That was definitely something we had to overcome mentally.”

Farley managed to recover quickly after his early tumble and placed fifth overall at the meet with a personal record of 24:45.

“I wanted to prove to myself that we belong with these big schools,” Farley said.

The men’s team scored 162 points. Grand Valley State placed first with 45 points. Cincinnati finished second, and Michigan State third.

KSU juniors Shadrack Kipkosgei and Ethan Yost and sophomore Jonah Cuestas rounded out the top-five runners for their team.

“The race plan we put forward would have allowed us to beat Michigan State,” Croft said. “The guys like to put real big goals out there. We didn’t quite hit it to a tee today, but we were so close.”

For the first time since 2014, the men’s cross country team ranked 15th in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional.

“It means a lot to be ranked,” Farley said. “I think we’re ranked low, but they’ll get it right the more we run and show what we’re made of.”

The women’s team finished ninth out of 19 teams at the meet Friday with 268 points.

Graduate student Leah Lisle led the pack in the women’s 6k and placed 22nd overall with a time of 22:22.

“There were a lot of fast girls in the race, so I put myself up front in the beginning and ran with them,” Lisle said. “I’m glad I was able to do that.”

The women’s team has focused on starting out faster and forming a pack to get through races.

“Where our women were in the first mile was very exciting,” Croft said. “They proved we weren’t afraid to get after it, which shows that they’re going to be able to hold on to that throughout the race.”

At their second meet last season, the five KSU women runners finished before a time of 26:04 or better. This year, 10 women ran under that time.

“We’ve definitely improved since last year,” sophomore Sydney Gallagher said. “The amount of teammates we have running together has increased, and that teamwork mentality has been carried over this year.”

Graduate student Stephanie Ward is still awaiting a decision on an eligibility waiver. She has not yet competed this season.

The Flashes run next at the Louisville Classic at 11 a.m. Oct. 1 at the University of Louisville.

Croft is optimistic heading into his team’s next meet.

“I said that this was going to be the best year Kent State has had in a decade,” Croft said. “It’s already proving to be true.”

James Goddard is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].