Cross country looks ahead

Forester cross country brings home top finishes and looks ahead to conference and National meets. They have three first place finishes and one fourth place finish to date, but the team plans to keep improving as conference approaches.

(Photo provided)
The Lady Forester cross country team prepares to start the race. They claimed the top five spots and the first place win at the Lancer Invitational. (Photo provided)

The women’s cross country team is still bringing home wins as the season winds down. They have three first place finishes and one fourth place finish to date, but the team plans to keep improving as the Crossroad League championships approach.

Seniors Erin Rockey and Gretchen Pyper said a standout aspect of this year’s team is their unity.

“Every year the team has new dynamics, and we are always close, but this year is special,” Pyper said. “On the girls’ side, with only eight members to our team, we have all become family. We have built relationships and bonds that stretch beyond running.”

The women’s team went to Nationals two years ago, and Rockey said that she would like to see the team make it this year.

“Ultimately, our goal is to earn a trip to Nationals whether it be through winning conference or getting rated high enough to go,” Rockey said.

Junior Krista Wood said another goal is getting the top seven runners within 30 seconds to a minute of each other.

The team has racked up other accolades including Christine Sparks being named Crossroads League runner of the week and getting votes in the NAIA women’s cross country coaches’ Top 25 poll.

The ladies captured the Lance Invitational for the third time in four years, recording the top five spots with Hannah Moore crossing the line in 19:08 as the individual champion.

(Photo provided)
Austin Presnell paces the Foresters. Presnell clocked a 27:26 time for 11th place in the men’s 8K at the Grace College Invitational. (Photo provided)

The men’s team has brought in three third place finishes and an 11th place finish at the Indiana Intercollegiate meet at Purdue University, the largest meet they have competed in thus far.

Sophomore Austin Presnell said the men’s team has made steps forward with each meet.

“I see some real resiliency from this team,” he said. “We simply go out and race week in and week out and do our best with what we have. We could use more depth – right now if one guy gets injured, our team is in some trouble.”

“Similar to last year, the strength of this team is (that) seven of the 10 are freshmen and sophomores, so we are very young,” junior Tyler Herber said.

The freshmen and sophomores are proving strong for the Foresters. Eric Baker and Austin Presnell, both sophomores, and freshman Zach McIntyre are consistently bringing in top finishes. Brian Menzie, a senior, is also a top finisher for the team.

The Foresters’ lasted achievement was finishing third with 76 points in the 8K Lance Invitational. Baker had the best time for the Foresters, placing seventh in 27:10. Presnell finished in at 27:26 with Menzie clocking in 27:43 for a 14th place finish.

The next meet for the Foresters will be Saturday, Oct. 25 at Aquinas College.

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