EIU cross country to begin season as they host the EIU Walt Crawford Open Friday


Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News

Members of the Eastern men’s cross country team begins the 8K race in the EIU Walt Crawford Open on Sept. 3, 2021, at the Tom Woodall Panther Trail. Both the men’s and women’s teams won the meet.

Kate Stevens, Assistant Sports Editor

EIU, the defending Ohio Valley Conference cross country champion team, will begin their season Friday at home in the Walt Crawford Open hosted at the Tom Woodall Panther Trail. EIU returns this season after a successful 2021 season. The Panthers also won the invite last year.

The cross country team has many key returners as they have lost two key runners in Lindsey Carlson and Jaime Marcos who won the women’s and men’s 2021 Walt Crawford Open race respectively. Key returners for the men and women are Dustin Hatfield and Kate Bushue. Hatfield is the defending men’s OVC champion and OVC Runner of the Year and Bushue is the defending women’s second place OVC runner. They both have won 1st Team All-OVC honors; Hatfield in 2017, 2018, 2020, and 2021; Bushue in 2020 and 2021. As the team found success as a group and as individuals last year, they are slated to do well as a group and individually this season.

The schools that will also participate in the EIU Walt Crawford Open are Indiana State, UIC, SIUE, Marquette, Vincennes University, Kaskaskia College, Defiance College, and Danville Area Community College.

The EIU Walt Crawford Open is the first of four events that the team will run in this season. They will also attend the Illinois State Redbird Invite, the Louisville Cross Country Classic, and the Bradley “Pink” Classic. The season will run through October and the OVC

Championship will be at the end of October in Cookeville, Tenn., and the NCCA Midwest Regional and National Championships will be in mid-November.

The women will kick off the invite as they run their 5k at 3:45 p.m. and the men’s 8k race will begin at 4:30 p.m