Cross country competes at Pre-Nationals

The Marquette men’s and women’s cross country teams competed in the NCAA Pre-National Invitational Saturday, with the men finishing 27th in their heat and the women finishing 37th. The meet was hosted by Indiana State at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind.

Coach Mike Nelson was very pleased with the way the women ran in what was probably the most competitive race of the year.

“I think that this meet gets better every year,” Nelson said. “The competition continuously gets stiffer. I was very proud of the way the women ran (Saturday). They ran a great race, very similar to how they did at Wisconsin.”

Senior Olivia Johnson once again led the way for the women, finishing 119th, with a time of 21:51.3. Johnson was followed by senior Laurie Dalrymple (22:20.6) and junior Katie Horan (22:21.1), who finished 172nd and 174th, respectively.

Although her time would state that she did well, Johnson was not satisfied with her result.

“I ran all right,” Johnson said. “I had been sick the week before the race, so I wasn’t in the best shape physically. But at the same time, you want to improve week to week, which I didn’t manage to do this week.”

Junior Bekki Misanin (22:27.2) and Carly Windt (22:54.4), who finished 183rd and 218th, rounded out the top five for the Marquette women.

The men also had a good day, finishing 27th out of 35 teams in their heat.

They were led by senior Brice Cleland, who had a time of 25:00.3.

“We ran all right,” Cleland said. “Not as well as we wanted to as a team. Problem with this race is if you don’t get somebody in the top 40, then you won’t end up with a good score.”

Nelson shared a similar opinion.

“The problem with Pre-Nationals is if you don’t have an All-American (runner), then you probably won’t do well,” Nelson said. “A good example of this is Mississippi, who finished right behind us. If we had raced head-to-head, the majority of our guys would have beaten theirs. But in this race, because they had one guy finish 4th, they were able to bump up their team position.”

Overall, Nelson was pleased with the way the men raced, and said some of the athletes felt fatigued going into the race, though he did not know why. Junior Blake Johnson (25:08.6) and sophomore Jack Senefeld (25:11.4) finished second and third for the Marquette men, and 125th and 128th overall, respectively.

Next up for Marquette will be the Big East Conference Championships on Oct. 30, hosted by Syracuse and held in Jamesville, N.Y.

The teams hope to improve on their finishes from last year (seventh for the men, eighth for the women), which will not be an easy task — six teams in the Big East are nationally ranked.

“I don’t know if we will necessarily improve our place from last year,” Nelson said. “But I know that we are definitely a better team than we were last year.”