Cross Country teams anticipate successful season

Kaitlin Cordes and Alex Hartman

The men’s and women’s cross country team is looking to have a banner season this fall with last year’s stand-outs leading the way. The season opens at the EIU Walt Crawford Open on Friday Sept. 2 at 5:30 p.m. The meet will be held on the Eastern’s Panther Trail.

Senior Riley McInerney has a chance repeat his first place finish at this meet from last year in his final season, and fellow Paxson Menard will also look for repeat success at the meet with another top two finish.

McInerney said with the off-seasons he, senior Tyler Yunk, and Menard had, they will have a chance to have three All-Ohio Valley Conference winners.

Returning this year for the women’s team is junior Maria Baldwin and senior Ivy Handley. The women’s side will look for Baldwin’s and Handley’s veteran presence for guidance and leadership in the upcoming season.

Baldwin shows strong confidence in her team and is mentally ready for the season she said.

“I believe that we will win conference because we all had an incredibly strong summer of training,” Baldwin said. “I’ve always been visualizing success and that helps me to be mentally prepared…I’ve learned that I am very mentally strong and that is half of the battle.”

In the 2015 season, Baldwin placed first in the top five team finishes in seven out of the team’s eight meets, one in which Baldwin did not participate.

Baldwin earned a first place finish in the team’s Walt Crawford opener at home with a time of 18:03.48.

As a team, Eastern finished first out of four teams in their first meet of the season with an overall score of 21.

The junior also earned first-team All-OVC honors in the OVC Championship meet.

Handley consistently found herself finishing in second place behind Baldwin position including a personal best time of 18:10.5 coming in the OVC Championship. She earned second-team All-OVC honors last season.

McInerney will run for his final season at Eastern this year. McInerney said he has been preparing more intensely over the summer for his upcoming senior season and believes the Eastern men’s team can do something special; win conference.

“After the regional track meet, I was behind in training compared to my teammates, so I had to increase my mileage and intensity quickly to catch up to everyone else,” he said. “After running summer races he also said, “They all went well and showed that I am in a better spot than last summer.”

“We have one of the best EIU teams in history… 364 days of the year (Eastern Kentucky) will be better than us, but on the day of conference, we need to be the best team that day.”

The Charleston native topped the team rankings in seven of the team’s competitions. He also finished in the top five overall in four meets.

McInerney tackled his personal record last season at the 2015 Bradley “Pink” Classic, posting a 24:28.4 in the meet.

He received first team All-OVC and All-region honors in his junior season.

Another runner to watch for is Menard. Menard also earned his personal record at the Bradley “Pink” Classic 8-km run with a finishing time of 24:52.6.

Menard was one of the top two team finishers behind McInerney in five of the teams’ seven meets. Among Menard’s junior year recognitions is a placing on the second OVC team.

The Panthers graduated Katelyn Duckett, Victoria Quatron and Amy Yeoman. The men lost former seniors Tyler Anderson, Joe Calio, Brock Ramos and Bruyn Yunk to graduation.

Kaitlin Cordes and Alex Hartman can be reached at 581-2812 and [email protected] and [email protected]