Cross Country runs at NCAA Regionals

Ashley Ternus, Staff Writer

The WSC Cross Country teams finished strong at Regionals, showing off multiple personal records and demonstrating how hard work and intense training pays off in the end.

The NCAA Central Regional Championships were held at the Tom Rutledge Course in Joplin, Missouri, and both teams felt good before the race.

“I don’t think there were too many negative factors to the race,” senior runner Nathan Pearson said. “You really couldn’t ask for better running weather.”

Pearson said their performance had improved since Conference, and a few of the men’s runners ran personal records.

“On the men’s side, we placed the same as last year, but dropped our points by almost 50 points, which shows some progress,” Coach Marlon Brink said. “The women’s team improved three places from last year and scored over 150 less points than last year’s total, so that was a nice improvement.”

Both teams finished in 24th, with a score of 638 points for the men’s 10,000-meter race and 594 for the women’s 6,000-meter race.

Jade Rickard finished 68th at 23:05, which is the fastest time a Wildcat has run at regionals since Megan Zavorka did in 2009 at 22:53.

“Jade really went after it,” senior runner Kim Johnson said. “She may only be a freshman, but she’s got incredible talent. She punched out a 23:05 which is astonishing, and I would love to follow up on her throughout her career at Wayne State.”

Johnson also ran a personal record of 24:43 and finished in 147th. She was preceded by 114th place Allie Rosener, who came in at 24:01 and Andrea Torres, who earned 135th at 24:30.

Bailey Peckham was the first Wildcat to cross the line, finishing 98th with a time of 33 minutes and 20 seconds. Brock Hegarty followed in 128 with a time of 34:10 and Dylan Kessler crossing in 133rd at 34:14.

“Big shout out to Jakob Kemper for beating me for the first time,” Pearson said. “That was definitely his best cross country race ever.”

Kemper finished in 147th at 35:53, two hundredths of a second behind 145th place Bryce Holcomb, and Pearson crossed shortly after in 157th at 35:23.

“Overall, six of the seven girls had personal best times for a 6000-meter course, which shows they are headed in the right direction,” Brink said. “I think both teams realized they have the capability to do more training, which we did more of early in the season, to reach new levels that they maybe had not done before. I think if they can build on that work capacity, they can continue to grow and develop as runners.”

Brink said one weakness both teams faced was lack of depth in their roster. He hopes to recruit more athletes for next season that have a strong work ethic and a willingness to compete at the collegiate level.

“I encourage the young, incoming runners to work hard, but also to have fun and relax,” Johnson said. “It’s completely natural to have ups and downs. Coming to college is a big jump from high school so don’t be too surprised by the amount of mileage you are about to punch in. There is a plan and this plan will bring forth results if you let it.”

Collegiate cross country can be more intense since the mileage of races increases from the 5,000 meters both men and women race in high school. However, freshmen should not be afraid to take on such a challenge.

“If it were easy everyone would do it,” Pearson said. “Don’t take your youth for granted. These four years fly by and you really need to put in the work before this window of opportunity closes for good.”

Marlon Brink
Junior Bailey Peckham competes in the NCAA Central Regional Championships this past weekend in Joplin, Missouri. Both teams finished in 24th, with a score of 638 points for the men’s 10,000-meter race and 594 for the women’s 6,000-meter race. Jade Rickard was the top women’s finisher with a time of 23:05 to earn her 68th. Peckham was the top men’s finisher with a time of 33:20 to earn him 98th place.