FINISHING: Sophomore Rachael Smelser competes for the Foresters. (photo provided by HU Athletics)
FINISHING: Sophomore Rachael Smelser competes for the Foresters. (photo provided by HU Athletics)

The cross country teams finished their regular season Oct. 22 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at Aquinas College. 25 teams competed in the NAIA Great Lakes Challenge, with the Forester women coming in at 15th overall and the men finishing 20th.

Aspen Dirr lead the Foresters with a 19:05 to finish 25th place. Christine Sparks came in 74th with a time of 20:03. The top five finishers in the women’s competition were Aquinas, Shawnee State, Taylor, St Xavier and Indiana Wesleyan.

On the men’s side, Zach McIntyre was the first finisher for Huntington in the 8K with a time of 27:25 which earned him 93rd place. Kevin Moser finished second for the Foresters in 115th place with a time of 28:19. The top 5 men’s teams at the Challenge were Marian, Shawnee State, Olivet Nazarene, Bethel and Cornerstone.

Previously, on Oct. 7 at the Bethel Invitational, the HU men finished second out of four teams, led by Nick Childs who ran a time of 28:17 to finish 6th out of 49 runners. Codi Wiersema was close behind with a time of 28:24 to finish 8th place for the Foresters.

Dirr claim first place in the women’s race at the Bethel Invitational in the 5K with a time of 19:10, 12 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. Sparks took third with a time of 19:35, with Marie Ditzler claiming 16th. The HU women took 3rd out of eight teams at the invite.

The Foresters compete next at Indiana Wesleyan in the Crossroads League meet on November 5th. Heading into postseason, Aspen Dirr is hopeful for a strong finish to the season, including a trip to Nationals. She said she has enjoyed this season under new head coach Fred Miller.

“I love the ideas he’s brought to the team. It’s been a good season for us as a team.”

Miller guides both teams and said he has enjoyed getting to know his runners this season.

“They have great attitudes,” Miller said. “They’re hard workers and focused on doing their best.”

On the men’s side, McIntyre has high hopes for the Foresters heading into the conference meet at IWU.

“We are going to focus primarily on building upon what our coach has already laid out for us as far as training,” he said. “A lot of the guys are planning to set personal records since the course is a fast one at IWU. If we can do that, we might be able to catch a team or two in front of us.”