Cross Country to open races on Friday

Alex Hartman, Cross Country Reporter


Friday marks the opening race for the men and women of Eastern Cross Country and is their first of five regular season races. Then they go onto compete in the OVC Championship and the NCAA Midwest regional races.

There are many new faces on both sides for the Panthers, who will host the Ohio Valley Championship Oct. 28th.

The Walt Crawford Open will start with the 5K for the women at 4:45 pm, and the 8K for the men will begin at around 5:30pm.

The competition will be commencing on the Tom Woodall Panther Trail, and Eastern will be hosting some conference competition by way of Murray State and SIUE, as well as Bradley, Southeast Missouri and Illinois from Division I athletics.

Other schools that will be running include Danville CC, Kaskaskia College, Illinois Central College, Vincennes University and Lincoln College.

The season opener will set the tone for the runners this season, and the team is looking to have a great start from the new additions to the team. The team is also looking for both men’s and women’s veterans to lead the way.

The men have a leading senior group that includes Chris Orlow, Tyler Keen, Karson Hahn and Michael Mest, while the senior Maria Baldwin is the leading senior for the women, also joined by fellow seniors Caroline Collet and Lea Viano.

For the last two seasons Baldwin has won the opening race for Eastern and looks to come out of the gates strong for a rare three peat.

And the men’s side will inevitably have a new champion, since the graduation of Eastern runner Riley McInerney opens up the first-place spot for someone else.

In total there were nine seniors who departed the team via graduation from last season. There were five on the women’s side, which included standout cross country running sisters Ruth and Rachel Garippo. The men had four departures on their side, and both sides will build their young talent throughout this season.

For the team’s next race in two weeks, they will travel to Bradley University on Friday, Sept. 15th for the Bradley Intercollegiate in Peoria.

Alex Hartman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]