Personal records galore: Head colds and a shaky start doesn’t slow cross country down

James Goddard, Reporter

Even while battling illness and a rough start to the race, almost all of Kent State’s cross country runners managed to outperform Saturday.

“We had a lot of people sick last week,” coach James Croft said. “Everyone had a great race and executed their plan.”

Out of the 16 runners who competed at the Louisville Cross Country Classic, 15 ran personal-best times.

The men’s team finished eighth out of 31 teams. The women’s team placed 30th out of 42 teams.

“The women didn’t get a good start,” Croft said. “People on other teams fell at the beginning of the race, and it made the start weird. We started far back at the first mile, and from there, they held strong and did well but couldn’t get past a wall of people.”

Graduate student Leah Lisle finished in 104th place – the highest for the women’s team –  in the 5K race with a personal record of 18:05. She talked about the race’s shaky start.

“It was really, really bunched up in the first mile,” Lisle said. “It was hard to pass, which slowed me down a bit. It worried me a little bit, but when I got to that first mile, I was able to get out around people.”

Even after the setbacks, every runner on the women’s team managed to set a collegiate personal best.

“Everyone ran a PR,” Croft said. “I was happy to see Anna Jones put a personal record together. She was really pleased with how she ran and I was happy to see that.”

Sophomore Anna Jones ran her fastest 5K race time of 19:17 in her second race of the season.

Lisle hopes to use what her team has learned this week as the Flashes head into the rest of their conference play this season.

“There were a few MAC teams that placed above us,” Lisle said. “I think what we’re looking at right now is what can we do to get ourselves up there with them.

Croft said the Flashes have a few adjustments to make going into the rest of the season.

“We bled a lot of points from the start to the end,” Croft said, “and that’s something we’ve been working on.”

In the Spartan Invitational Sept. 16, one runner from the men’s team fell in the beginning of the race. Another lost his shoe. Croft said this week’s start went smoothly.

“The main plan our top three was to get out in the top 30 then move up, which we did,” Croft said. “Baidy went straight into the top five. The three other scorers came in the top 60 and held their position there.”

Sophomore Baidy Ba led the men, placing eighth with a personal best time of 23:41.

“I didn’t expect Baidy to have a good race,” Croft said. “He was sick all week, so I was happy to see him after the race.”

Out of the eight runners for the team, seven secured personal bests in the eight-kilometer contest.

“On the men’s side, it was a full team performance,” Croft said. “Everyone executed their plan well. We had people going down with head colds, so to see us execute a good race after all that felt good.”

The seven scoring runners crossed the finish line in under 26 minutes, allowing only two Mid-American Conference teams to place above them.

“Our biggest accomplishment was proving to those other schools, especially in MAC, that we can take them this season and just show everyone what we’re made of,” junior Joe Farley said.

Farley secured a 27th place finish with his personal-record time of 24:05.

“I think my biggest accomplishment was proving I can hang up there with the top guys and put myself through it,” Joe Farley said. “I have a cold right now, but I proved to myself that no matter how I’m feeling, I can run a quick, fast race.”

The Kent State men’s team was ranked 12th in the NCAA Great Lakes regional ranking heading into this week.

“It’s nice to see it, but it doesn’t mean anything until that last race of the season when we run great regionals,” Croft said. “I don’t put too much stock in it. I think we can beat a lot of teams that are ahead of us in the region.”

The Flashes next meet at the Falcon Invitational at 11 a.m. on Oct. 14 at Bowling Green State University

“They’re champing at the bit,” Croft said. “They want to run. They want to go faster. They want to push themselves.”

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