Cross country to lose Ghena, return core of women’s team
Coming into the season, the Central Michigan cross country teams were young and unproven, relying mostly on underclassmen. After this year, both teams have reasons to be excited for the future.
The season came to an end when the Chippewas finished 12th in the women’s regional and 15th in the men’s regional. Teams had to finish in the top two to guarantee a spot at the NCAA Championships.
“I think we’ve definitely made some strides this year,” said Head Coach Matt Kaczor. “It doesn’t show in the regional placing, but we’re young.”
The Chippewas competed in the Jeff Drenth Memorial 5K (unscored), Spartan Invitational (unscored), Roy Griak Invitational (women 14th, men 17th), Oakland Invite (unscored), Pre-nationals (women sixth, men 13th), Mid-American Conference Championships (women third, men fourth) before the Great Lakes Regional this season.
The team ran its best race of the season at the Mid-American Conference Championships in Canton, Ohio. The Chippewas had four runners earn All-MAC selections and finished in the top five in both the men’s and women’s races for the second straight year. Senior runner Nate Ghena (fifth overall) and sophomore runner Kirsten Olling (seventh overall) earned First Team All-MAC honors, while seniors Silas DeKalita (14th) and Kelly Schubert (15th) earned Second Team All-MAC honors.
“The MAC meet was kind of a stepping stone this year for both teams,” Kaczor said. “It rekindled and refocused them and let them know we can be good it’s just going to take a little bit more work in order to take that next step.”
The men will graduate their top two runners in Ghena and DeKalita and will look to sophomore Joseph Emmanuel and freshmen Mark Beckman and Luke Anderson to lead them next year.
The women’s team keep the core of their team of Olling, Schubert and freshman Samantha Allmacher, losing only senior Alyssa Dyer from their top group.
“Ghena is probably one of the top ten guys in CMU history. He’s going to be a very tough guy to replace,” Kaczor said. “We’re going to need more guys up front next year.”
For the women, Kaczor said the team needs to develop one more high-caliber runner if it wants to compete for a MAC Championship.
"On the women’s side, the question is whether we can develop a fifth runner," Kaczor said. "We are going to live and die by our fifth. We can be good and we can contend with Eastern (Michigan), Bowling Green and Western next year, but it will depend on how well we can develop.”