Cross country teams shake off rust at Jeff Drenth Memorial 5K

Associate Head Coach Matt Kaczor stays on the sidelines by the finish and cheers on the CMU women's cross country players on Oct. 31 at the MAC Championship in Akron, Ohio. Monica Bradburn | Assistant Photo Editor

The 31st Annual Jeff Drenth Memorial 5K gave the Central Michigan cross country teams a chance to shake off the rust and test their summer training in the only home meet of the season for the Chippewas.

The race was run between just two teams, CMU and Michigan State. Various runners ran unattached as well. MSU took first in both the men’s and women’s races.

Seniors led the way for the Chippewas on both sides. Fifth year senior Kelly Schubert won the women's race with a time of 17:43 and senior Spencer Nousain was the first Chippewa in the men’s race, finishing in eighth overall at 15:34.

“I was really happy with it,” Schubert said. "It was my best 5K cross country time in college and being a fifth year senior in my last home meet, I was really happy with it.”

Nousain said the race was really just about getting a feel for the upcoming season.

“Its really just to break off the rust," Nousain said. “I think it’s really hard not to race for three months and then go back into (an 8K).”

Behind Schubert, sophomores Megan O’Neil (18:01) and Samantha Allmacher (18:28) took fourth and 10th, respectively. Seniors Hannah Davis (18:41) and Kelly McNeely (19:05) rounded out the scoring five for CMU in 14th and 19th overall.

“Schubert had a phenomenal race. She stuck to the race plan of just sitting up front pulling along (O’Neil) and (Allmacher) for as long as she could,” Kaczor said. "(She) felt good the last kilometer so we let her go. The summer training is showing now and I’m very impressed and very happy with where Schubert is.”

Junior Joseph Emmanuel (15:40) finished just behind Nousain in 11th followed by freshman Bransen Stimpfel (15:55) in 15th. Senior Casey Voisin (16:13) finished in 19th and sophomore Alec Omell (16:23) in 21st.

“I was very pleased with the way (Nousain) and (Emmanuel) stuck together and worked through the pack,” Kaczor said. “They did better than what I was hoping from what we’ve seen so far. That bodes well for another one-two punch development for us, since we lost our two big seniors from last year.”

Normally, at the collegiate level, men run an 8K race and women run a 6K race. Kaczor said starting the season with a 5K gives the younger runners time to get up to speed.

“What we are trying to do is just see where we are at,” Kaczor said. “Throwing them in an 8K — especially when you have so many young runners — they don’t know race strategy yet. They don’t know who they’re supposed to be running with and where they should be in relation to each other. It gives them a chance to get to figure out how they should be working throughout this. We don’t need the full 8K to make those things happen.

Nousain echoed that sentiment, saying the Drenth meet was really a focus on race strategy rather than posting a great time.

“The plan was just to go out smooth and relax,” Nousain said. “This is the first meet so we didn't really want to kill it out there, just break of the rust and get things going. First mile was pretty smooth, nothing too difficult, and from there we slowly moved up and finished strong.

Junior Kirsten Olling, one of the top women runners, did not run due to a coach’s decision.

“Right now it’s about her,” Kaczor said. “We know she’s going to have a long year, so we are not going to try and feed her to the wolves right now. We have some goals in mind. We hope that by holding her out, we are going to see some good results from not only her, but the team.”

Olling is expected to be back competing at the Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 24.

Jeff Drenth, the race’s namesake, was a Central Michigan Cross Country and Distance Runner for the Chippewas in the early 1980s. He was the individual MAC cross country champion in back-to-back years (1982-83), and ran for the United States National team at meets in Russia and Japan in 1985 after graduating from CMU. In 1986 however, he died while training at the Olympic Training Center in California. He still holds the school record for the 10,000 meters here at Central Michigan. Drenth’s brother Walt Drenth is the current Director of Cross Country at Michigan State.

CMU will see MSU again  on Sept. 16 at the Spartan Invitational in East Lansing.