Women finish in 12th, men 15th at cross country regionals
The Central Michigan cross country team’s season came to an end Friday at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional in Madison, Wisconsin.
The women’s team finished tied for 12th place with 314 points, while the men finished in 15th with 376 points. The teams needed to finish in the top two to be guaranteed a spot at the National Championships, which take place Nov. 21.
“It definitely burns a little bit being so close to the top 10,” said Head Coach Matt Kaczor. “The weather was windy, but everyone had to deal with those same conditions.”
The women were led by sophomore Kirsten Olling, who finished in 32nd (21:19.4) in the 6K race. Freshman Megan O’Neil came in 57th (21:50.8) and junior Kelly Schubert placed 59th (21:53.0).
“We were so close and a few points here or there would have changed everything,” Kaczor said. “Olling ran hard as always and we were happy with what we got from Megan.”
The men were without sophomore Joseph Emmauel, who is recovering from a foot injury. Senior Nate Ghena led the way and finished the 10K in 26th place (31:25.2). He was one spot away from the top 25 and being considered All-Region. Senior Silas DeKalita finished in 61st (32:17.6), while freshmen Luke Anderson (32:37.2) and Mark Beckman (33:06.0) came in 80th and 115th respectively.
“It was tough for us since we were already a man down and had to run with only six,” Kaczor said. “I thought we did a good job despite that, but still should’ve finished higher.”
Ghena finishes his career as one of the most decorated runners in school history. He finished first for the Chippewas in each of his final 13 races, dating back to his senior year. He also was All-Mid-American Conference three years running and the team will surely miss his presence.
“He is one of the top 10 runners this schools has ever had. It’s amazing because he never ran cross country in high school and now look where he is,” Kaczor said. “I’ve never seen anything like it and the younger guys will benefit from running with him.”
While the men’s team loses two of its top runners to graduation, the women’s team brings almost everyone back and should be even more competitive next season.
“I think our only thing we will need to do is to find a fifth to replace (Alyssa) Dyer,” Kaczor said. “We find a fifth and we should for sure be a top nine team (regionally) next year.”
The University of Michigan won both the men’s and women’s races, finishing with 67 and 69 points. Michigan State finished in second in the women’s and third in the men’s. Each team will move on to the NCAA Championships, with the Wolverines being one of the favorites to win it all.