Four meets are behind them, and now, the home stretch of the 2016 season begins for Ashland University's men's and women's cross country teams.
That stretch starts on Saturday (Oct. 22) at the 2016 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships at Katke Golf Course in Big Rapids, Mich. The women's 6K will go off at 11 a.m., with the men's 8K to follow at 11:45 a.m.
On the men's side, senior Nick Hall is coming off an individual title at the 8K Lake Erie Invitational, crossing the finish line in 25:48.91.
"We're super excited," said Scott. "He had a little bit of a slow start to the season, but he's one of those kids that we knew he was going to come on strong when it counts. That's just his mentality."
Along with Hall, seniors Aubrey Jordan and Tommy Menyes and sophomore Steven Kapes have been in the AU top five all season, while senior Zach Humrichouser has been in the top five in three of four meets.
"They've been doing fantastic," Scott said. "From the first meet, we've just gotten better every meet after that. They've been making progress in their workouts. They're just a really good team. They're upperclassmen, they're experience, they're ready to go and they're excited to head into the championship season."
The Eagle men have finished in the top five at the GLIAC meet 20 times in the previous 21 years, and have finished second, third or fourth each of the last six conference races.
On the women's side, sophomore Emily Schumaker has led the team in all four 2016 races, and posted a season-best 6K time of 23:34.8 at Michigan State in September.
Senior Linda Morales has been Ashland's No. 2 runner in each of the last three races, while fellow senior Jackie Genetin has moved into the No. 3 spot in back-to-back meets. Yet another senior, Courtney Haubert, has been in the top five the last two races, while freshman Kaylie Murray has been in the top five all season.
"Our women's team ran a really, really good race," Scott said of the Lake Erie meet, which ended up as a 4.3K, rather than a 6K. "I think they're going to have some breakout races. I told them to have a little chip on their shoulder…because they didn't get to show what they were capable of because the race was cut short.
"It will be fun to see how it plays out."
Ashland's women have made a steady climb up the GLIAC meet ladder in recent years, going from 10th in 2012 to fifth in 2015.
Scott described the FSU course as flat, especially compared to the Lake Erie course, which Scott said probably was the hilliest one he'd ever seen.
Following the conference meet, the Eagle men and women will compete at the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional meet on Nov. 5 at Southern Indiana. The top five men's and women's teams plus the top three individuals in each gender not on a qualifying team advance to the Division II Championship meet, Nov. 19 in St. Leo, Fla.