Cross country teams set for NCAA Midwest Regional

Dominic Renzetti, Assistant Sports Editor

The Eastern men’s and women’s cross country teams head back to Peoria for the NCAA Midwest Regional event this Friday. The women’s 6K race begins at noon, while the men’s 10K race follows at 1 p.m.

On the women’s side, two Eastern runners come enter with favorable times in the 6K. Sophomore Emily Brelsfoard recorded the sixth fastest 6K time in school history earlier this year with a mark of 22:01.8. Freshman Maria Baldwin has the top 6K time among all Ohio Valley Conference freshman with a mark of 22:29.7. Both runners were named to the All-OVC Second Team and Baldwin was the OVC Female Freshman of the Year.

Both times, coincidentally, were recorded at the Newman Golf Course in Peoria, the same course that the Panthers will be running on this weekend.

The Eastern women’s team is coming off a second place finish at the OVC championship, while the men’s team finished fifth.

Friday will be the first time all season the Eastern men’s team has competed in a 10K race, but like the women, the men have competed at the Newman Golf Course before.

Riley McInerney, a sophomore from Charleston, was the top Eastern finisher when the Panthers raced at Peoria last month. McInerney also led the Panthers at the conference championship.

The Midwest regional consists of teams from the Atlantic 10, Big 12, Big East, Big Sky, Big 10, Conference USA, Horizon League, Mid-American, Missouri Valley, Ohio Valley, Summit League, Southeastern and Western Athletic Conference.

Top competition from the men’s side includes No. 4 Oklahoma State, as well as No. 23 Tulsa and No. 26 Oklahoma. On the women’s side, Iowa State enters as the No. 5 team in the nation, while Minnesota comes in at No. 20.

Competing for the Eastern women will be: Baldwin, Brelsfoard, Rachel Garippo, Ruth Garippo, Ivy Handley, Julie James, Quincy Knolhoff, Victoria Quarton, Kristen Rohrer and Amy Yeoman.

Competing for the Eastern men will be: McInerney, Tyler Anderson, Ryan Ballard, Joe Calio, Derrick Johnson, Paxon Menard, Lucas Nudelman, Mark Pedziwiatr and Brock Ramos.

The top two finishing teams each receive spots in the NCAA National Championship, hosted by Indiana State, while the top four individuals not on a top-two team also advance. The NCAA National Championship is set for Nov. 22 at the Gibson Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind.

Dominic Renzetti can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].