Cross country ends on a high note

The Marquette cross country teams capped off their seasons with strong performances by both the men and women at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional in Rochester, Mich., Saturday. The men’s and women’s teams finished 10th and 16th, respectively.

“I thought both teams ran very well,” coach Mike Nelson said. “I thought both teams had either their best race as a team, or close to their best.”

The men managed to grab their highest place at regionals since 2007, when they finished eighth, running in a 10 kilometer race instead the usual eight kilometers during the season.

“It was a very quick race, and I thought we ran very well as a team,” senior Brice Cleland said.

Cleland led the way for Marquette, finishing 46th with a time of 31:30. Coming in behind him were junior Blake Johnson, who finished 54th (31:39.9) and sophomore Connor Callahan 58th (31:47.3). Rounding out the top-five for the Golden Eagles were junior Peter Bolgert who finished 61st (31:54.3) and Senior Nick Szczech who finished 62nd (31:55.2).

The men were without one of their top runners this weekend, as freshman Jack Senefeld was out due to injury.

“It would have been nice to have him in there, and over the 10k he would have run very well,” Nelson said. “He might have been able to get us a few more points and possibly bump us up one spot, but I don’t think his loss made a huge difference.”

According to Cleland, Marquette’s traditional pack formation, while being a strength in terms of most of the team running and finishing together, may have hurt them throughout the season.

“We are a lot better as a team than most, but not having top guy leads to us getting higher seeds,” Cleland said.

Nelson, however, does not think that the lack of a dominant runner makes that much of a difference.

“In 2007 we had that top runner, but our fifth runner was much slower. So it really hasn’t made that much of a difference for us as we have lost that runner,” Nelson said.

Nelson was also pleased with the women’s  performance and 16th place finish.

“If you go person by person, they all ran close to, or set their personal best,” Nelson said. “It was probably a better performance than they did at conferences. Overall I was very happy with the way they ran.”

Senior Olivia Johnson yet again led the way for the Golden Eagles, finishing 49th, with a time of 21:50.2. She was followed by junior Kate Horan who finished 78th (22:19.8), sophomore Carly Condon who placed 84th (22:25.1), and junior Bekki Misanin who finished 95th (22:36.3). Sophomore Carly Windt rounded out the top five at 105th place (22:49.7).

The day was bittersweet for Johnson, as it was her final Marquette cross country race.

“There was a lot of anticipation going into the race,” she said. “I’m proud of the way I ran, though, and I think I left with no regrets.”

Nelson was also very proud of his top female runner.

“This was definitely Olivia’s best season in cross country,” Nelson said. “She was our top runner all year and we could rely on her every race for a good performance.”