Cross country teams open season with high expectations

Jack Arkus, Staff Reporter

The Eastern cross country team will begin their fall season Friday at home on the Panther Trail.

Both the men and women’s teams will lace up and take their first steps into their highly anticipated 2015 season.

Since the middle of May, each member of the team has followed a day-by-day schedule based on their performance from the outdoor spring season.

Due to the fact that her team is going to deal with more hills with the courses at conference and regionals, Eastern coach Erin Howarth paid more attention to hill work.

The entire Panther team is in good health and looks to keep it that way.

Howarth said the bumps and bruises from the spring will not be detrimental to the teams’ success this fall.

As for the men’s side, they have had acquired a handful of transfers this season, such as sophomore Reis DeSantis from the University of Saint Francis and junior Tyler Yunk from the University of Kansas. The team gained a total of six transfers and all are expected to impact the team significantly this season.

Not only will the transfers make a difference to the program but also the freshmen. There are four freshman women and four freshman men looking to get their feet wet and give this team a spark during the extra mile.

“My philosophy has always been that most freshmen have no expectations in them other than to be a great teammate, do everything that is asked of them, buy into and believe in the training philosophy, and start off their college academic career with stellar grades,” Howarth said.

Leadership has never been an issue from the spring season until now. Now, with an assortment of upperclassmen and underclassmen, the opportunity for a standout runner is within anyone’s reach.

The men will have three substantial juniors: Riley McInerney, Paxson Menard and previously mentioned Yunk leading the pack this fall.

As for the women, sophomore Maria Baldwin is expected to be a standout and top finisher in the races to come. Junior Emily Brelsfoard and senior Victoria Quarton will be the two upperclassmen pulling their weight as top returning runners from the previous season.

Eastern’s schedule this season is one with many road meets. Every meet this season besides Friday’s EIU Walt Crawford Open will be away.

The focus now is strictly for Friday.

“We are focusing on one meet at a time this season,” Howarth said. “So first and foremost, I want the team to go out there on Friday and win both team titles and both individual titles.”

Howarth and her team feel it is their year to win.

“I want conference and regionals teams to know that we are ready to be the best EIU team in recent history and that we aren’t scared of anyone,” Howarth said. “This is our year.”

 

Jack Arkus can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]