Cross Country ready for Louisville Classic

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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The Eastern men’s and women’s cross country team is competing again after having last weekend off from competition.

The Panthers are competing at the Louisville Classic Saturday.

Last time out, the men and women earned second place finishes out of six teams at the Bradley Intercollegiate.

The women are regionally ranked for the third consecutive week in the United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association. Eastern is ranked 15th in the Midwest region.

Iowa State moved into the No. 1 spot for the Midwest region, becoming the third different team to have the first-place spot in three weeks.

Minnesota is tied with Oklahoma State for second place with Missouri and Kansas rounding out the top five.

Senior Maria Baldwin built on to her strong season last weekend with her second-straight second place finish on Bradley’s 3-mile course.

Baldwin finished the race with at 17 minutes, 42.5. Baldwin was the only top 10 finisher for Eastern, but freshman Kate Bushue finished just outside in 11th. She earned a time of 17 minutes, 42.5.

She earned OVC Female Runner of the Week for her performance at the Bradley Intercollegiate.

After a week off, she said the team is ready to go.

“This is a big meet and while we’re young, we have prepped the last two weeks and are prepared with the size of the race,” Baldwin said.

The last time the Panthers competed at Louisville was in 2014.

Eastern is going to experience cooler temperatures this weekend than it did at the Bradley Intercollegiate.

The team has still been training and running in the heat the past week, but a drop in temperature this weekend may help Eastern’s runners, Baldwin said.

“I’m sure many of us will see (personal records),” Baldwin said. “Hopefully the women can keep their top 15 mark in the Midwest.”

The two-week break in between meets is nothing new for the Panthers as they had a two-week break between their opening EIU Walt Crawford open and the Bradley Intercollegiate.

The extra time off gives the Panthers some extra time to train and work on little things to help them each weekend, Baldwin said.

“We’ve been seeing a ton of improvement on both sides of the team at practice and just doing all the right little things, like hydrating and sleeping.”

While the men are not ranked in the USTFCCCA, they are still running strong.

Last weekend, freshman Dustin Hatfield placed third overall for the men. His time of 25 minutes, 23.1 gave him his third-place finish, while the rest of the men competing finished inside of the top 20.

Freshman Jaime Marcos came in ninth, finishing in 25 minutes, 58.3 seconds.

As Baldwin said, even though the team is young this year, they are getting contributions from everyone top to bottom.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]