What can Ashland University's men's and women's cross country teams do for an encore?
Head coach Jacob Sussman is looking forward to finding out.
Coming off an All-Ohio Collegiate Cross Country Championships race in which the Eagle men and women combined for 17 collegiate personal bests, the AU cross country teams will compete on Friday (Oct. 12) at the JennaStrong Fall Classic at Wilmington College. The women's 5K race will be at 4:30 p.m., with the men's 8K race to follow at 5:15 p.m.
"It was a very nice surprise," Sussman said of the All-Ohio PRs. "MSU (the Michigan State Spartan Invitational on Sept. 14) didn't go the way we wanted. We kind of let off the pedal a little bit, just to make sure we were firing on all cylinders at All-Ohio."
As for the Wilmington course, Sussman said, "It's a fair course. I always thought it was fast. The course records are pretty fast. Overall, it's a fair course."
On the men's side, Ashland's top two runners continue to be junior Kyle Shively and sophomore Tyler Sievert. Both Shively and Sievert turned in Ashland PRs at All-Ohio, Shively at 25:36.2 and Sievert at 25:52.8 on the 8K course.
"Sievert's been a huge surprise, especially going sub-26 at the last meet," Sussman said. "Kyle went low 25s. Those are huge PRs for them, and moving forward, if they're running anywhere close to those times, we're going to be in good shape."
The Ashland women have been led this fall by junior Johannah Stefanek, who has PRed in back-to-back 6K races, including at 23:45.9 at All-Ohio.
"She's making huge waves in terms of cross country," Sussman said. "The end of outdoor track last year for her was fantastic."
Senior Emily Schumaker will compete for the first time since Michigan State, and that second wave includes junior Haylee Zigan (24:37.0), freshman Abby Moser (24:22.1), and sophomores Lexi Butterbaugh (25:03.5), Tracy Morgan (24:47.1) and Maureen McKeown (25:47.6).
"They've just been pushing each other," Sussman said. "You can tell, there's a huge difference from last year to this year, in terms of motivation."