Midwest regional up next for cross country

Mark Shanahan, Staff Reporter

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The men and women’s cross country teams return to action this weekend for the Midwest Regional beginning Thursday and hosted by Kansas at Rim Rock Farm.

The men’s team heads into the regional ranked 15th. Prior to this season, Eastern had not been ranked in the Men’s U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Midwest Regional poll since the 2012 season. The top five men’s teams in this regional are Oklahoma State, Tulsa, Illinois, Oklahoma and Minnesota.

Head coach Erin Howarth said she likes a few things she has seen from the men’s side this year as opposed to last year’s team.

“On the men’s side specifically, we committed to the race right from the start of each and every competition,” she said. “We were not afraid of anyone and didn’t wait until halfway through the race to truly attack and give ourselves a chance to win. We were attacking from the gun.”

For the women, sophomore Maria Baldwin and junior Ivy Handley are coming off of first and second All-OVC performances at the conference championships. Both of the teams placed second in the OVC championships.

Howarth said the leadership is what set these teams apart from the past.

“The thing that has truly set these two teams apart from year’s past is the excellent leadership on both sides,” she said. “Joe Calio and Derrick Johnson on the men’s side and Kristen Rohrer and Quincy Knolhoff on the women’s side have truly embraced their duties as senior captains and done an outstanding job.”

Calio, a redshirt senior, finished 20th in the OVC championships and set a personal record earlier in the season at the Bradley Pink Classic. Rohrer broke her personal record at the Notre Dame Invite but has not participated in the last two races.

Howarth said she was most impressed with the Bradley meet and the OVC Championships to this point in the season, but hopes to be impressed with what is ahead.

“I hope the most impressive one is still ahead at the NCAA Midwest regionals, but up until this point in time, the most impressive meets were Bradley and the OVC Championships but each for different reasons,” she said. “Bradley was one where we did things on both sides that we haven’t done in the program in over 30 years.”

The teams hope to continue to make good strides as the cross country season nears its end.

 

Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]