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Dirr and Sparks come in first at Manchester

by Miranda Palmer

TOP TWENTY: Christine Sparks and Aspen Dirr pose after finishing in the top-20 at Little State Sept. 16. (photo provided)

TOP TWENTY: Christine Sparks and Aspen Dirr pose after finishing in the top-20 at Little State Sept. 16. (photo provided)

Aspen Dirr and Christine Sparks got off to a good start for the HU women’s cross country team last Thursday night at Manchester University. The pair won the race with a time of 36:34.5, with an average of 6:06/mile.

Dirr said she and her team have a goal for this season “to keep a tight-knit team and glorify God in all that we do.”

Rosie Ditzler and Cassidy Johnson averaged 6:45 per loop to finish ninth out of 15 teams with an overall time of 40:28.6 while the threesome of Rachael Smelser, Bianca Tisdale and Amanda Fielding posted a time of 41:04.1 to place 11th.

On the men’s side, Zach McIntyre and Codi Wiersema paired up to claim eighth out of 25 teams by averaging 5:20 per mile for an overall time of 42:40.9.

Six seconds later Kevin Moser and Austin Willey registered a time of 42:46.9 good for ninth and an average mile time of 5:21.

Wiersema said success for the men’s team would come through “focusing on one meet at a time and improving throughout the season.”

The retirement of long-time coach Tom King has led to the hiring of Fred Miller, former HU cross country runner. Miller said being an HU alum factored into his decision to come back and coach the Foresters.

“I ran cross country for HU and wanted an opportunity to do something that I am passionate about. That is running, and helping others succeed.”

Remembering his days as a Forester, Miller came in with high expectations for the team and says the runners have exceeded his expectations so far.

“I expected a positive team atmosphere, with runners working hard, having fun, and caring for one another. That is what I am seeing,” he said.

The Foresters in Louisville at the Greater Louisville Invitational on Sept. 29-30.

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