Greene County News
FAIRBORN — The seasons for Wright State’s men’s and women’s cross country teams contrasted in the final results last year. What each team has in common this season is a combination of quality spring and summer conditioning, experience and new additions that could lead to improvement.
The women’s team capped off the 2015 season by finishing third at the Horizon League Championship meet, which was tied for the Raiders’ best team result in that race. This year, WSU will look to compete with defending HL champion Oakland.
“They’re not afraid of challenging Oakland for the conference championship,” WSU coach Rick Williamson said.
The men are hoping to improve their finish at the Horizon League meet after finishing 10th and 9th the last two seasons respectively.
“I feel like it’s a whole new era of men’s cross country. The last two years we’ve really struggled,” Williamson said. “It is a much more positive atmosphere, and I feel like everybody is working really hard. I think they’re going to be much improved.”
Both teams should have additional depth this season. The women return nine out of the top 11 runners from the 2015 squad. This will include second team All-Horizon League recipients Jessica Doepker and Hailey Brumfield, along with team MVP Alexandra Brown.
Brumfield and Doepker finished ninth and 12th respectively at the HL championship.
Brown was the top finisher for WSU at the All-Ohio Championship and NCAA Great Lakes Regional.
Doepker followed up her cross country season with a productive campaign on the track. She set new school records in the indoor 800-meter, outdoor 800 and outdoor 1,500, which earned her team MVP honors for both track seasons.
Brumfield’s track season also ended on a high note with her fifth overall finish in the 3,000 steeplechase at the Horizon League outdoor meet.
Juniors Danielle Beranek and Jessica Swartz, in addition to sophomores Kristina Steingass and Aurora Turner should also make an impact after they each spent time as the team’s top seven runners.
Swartz dropped her 20:08 5-kilometer time in cross country last season down to 19:26.03 on the track, and could continue that trend after having some promising preseason workouts, according to Williamson.
Four freshmen who could make an impact on the women’s side are Molly Kearns, Tessa Baker, Tiffany Ward and Shelby Nolan. They each have high school personal bests under 20 minutes in the 5K.
“I think we have a good group of girls this year who all have great potential,” Brown said. “The key for this season is to get everyone working together to compete at their very best.”
On the men’s side, Andrew Lake made strides during track season by setting personal bests in the 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000. During cross country last year, Lake ran under 27 minutes twice in the 8K.
Seniors Cory Miles and Austin Szekacs, in addition to sophomore Tyler Mathes, should give the team a solid foundation of experience. Miles set the Raiders’ 6K record at the Queen City Invitational last season (19:42).
Newcomers Nathan Dunn and Blake Guillozet are looking to bring added experience from their previous teams. Dunn is a transfer from Edison Community College with an 8K personal best of 25:54. Guillozet transferred from Bowling Green last winter and had a 5,000 time of 15:44 for WSU during track season.
“Everyone is putting in the work to do great things,” Lake said. “As a team, I have confidence that we can get five guys under 27 minutes.”
Productive track seasons from runners on each team could be a promising sign for cross country, Williamson says.
“In college, you have to be a runner 12 months a year,” Williamson said. “If you can have a good track season, that will certainly help your cross country season.”
Improvement at the Horizon League meet is the ultimate goal for both teams. From what Williamson has seen so far, the Raiders appear to be headed in the right direction.
“From all indications and what I have seen in the opening week of practice, this is the fittest group we’ve ever had coming off summer conditioning,” Williamson said.
“Both the men’s and the women’s team certainly did their homework this off-season and have set themselves up for an outstanding year.”