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The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


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Cross country begins season after losing top performers

Kent State men’s and women’s cross country teams have been preparing all offseason for their first meet. 

Both teams will show off their hard work in the first race at Tommy Evans Invitational.

 The women will run a 5K race, and the men will run a 6K race. 

“I’m excited to watch these younger crews put their own stamp on the team and turn into leaders themselves,” coach James Croft said. 

The women’s team will compete without last year’s top two senior runners, Leah Lisle and Nina Zraik.

Lisle placed 33rd in the Mid-American Conference Championship last season, and Zraik posted a 21:59.5 6K at the conference championship.

However, junior Sydney Gallagher, who placed 43rd in the MAC championships, is the top returner for the women this year. She will lead the junior class, seeking even more improvement.

“Our workouts the past few weeks have been considerably faster than I’ve been running the past two years,” Gallagher said. “I’m really looking to have a considerable jump in our placement in the MAC meet… maybe top 25.”

Juniors Anna Jones, Ariana Manos, Sydney Miller and Gallagher all ran a personal-best 6K time in last year’s MAC Championship. 

With one graduate student and one senior on this year’s roster, the younger classes will have to step up for the Flashes.

“Our entire junior class has really stepped up, and I think has done a wonderful job of mentoring the freshman as well as the sophomores,” Gallagher said. ”Showing them the ropes and the standards on our team.”

On the men’s side, the team ranked number 14 in the Division 1 Men’s Cross Country Great Lakes Regional Rankings to start the season. 

“The team is looking real good right now, and I’m happy with how everyone came in,” graduate student Trey Double said. “This is the best that we’ve looked in the five years I’ve been here.”

The team will be without Joe Farley, who transferred to Florida State after a remarkable season finishing ninth at the MAC Championship.

“Losing Joe is a big loss for us, but similar to the women’s team, I really like where the leadership is at,” Croft said. “As a coach, that’s the fun part, seeing how this team is going to form.” 

The team still has lots of talent, including junior Baidy Ba, an NCAA qualifier and 7th place finisher in last season’s MAC Championship. He will lead the team after breaking Kent State records in the 8K and 10K.

Senior Ethan Yost, junior Jonah Cuestas and sophomore Dylan McBride will also return after qualifying for the NCAA Great Lakes Regionals last year. 

“We have a lot of experienced runners now, so it’s going to be a lot different of an atmosphere,” Double said. “We are going in with higher expectations, but right now, we’re just looking to meet and evaluate what’s next.”

The Flashes finished 12th in the regional ranking last year and are looking to improve this season. 

“Even though we lost some heavy hitters, we are not going to back down, ” Croft said. “I think we can be a top 10 team if everyone stays healthy and the training goes as planned.”

The Flashes first meet takes place in Norton, Ohio Friday at 6:15 p.m. for the women’s team and 6:45 p.m. for the men’s. 

Matthew Franos is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]

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