Marquette Cross-Country: Teams compete in final tune-up

In their final competitions before the Big East Conference Championships, Marquette’s women’s and men’s cross-country teams finished ninth out of 21 teams and 35th out of 39 teams, respectively.

The women’s team continued its revolving door of race leaders, this time paced by freshman Elisia Meyle’s 28th place finish (22:15.49), at the Bradley Classic in Peoria, Ill.

The men relied on a trio of upperclassmen: seniors Blake Johnson (127th, 24:59.3) and Peter Bolgert (144th, 25:04.9) led, followed by junior Jack Senefeld (169th, 25:16.6) at the Adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis. The race featured two-thirds of the NCAA’s top ranked teams competing and 270 individual runners.

For Senefeld, the sheer size of the race caused some problems for the Golden Eagles.

“Around the first turn we got pinched and pushed to the back of the pack,” Senefeld said. “And about a half-mile into the race, there was a 30-person pile up. Around the race I kept seeing more guys who just got taken down and had to withdraw.”

Senefeld, who has recently recovered from a calf injury, liked the adrenaline buildup he experienced from having a large crowd on top of a large field of competitors.

“The realization was when you looked up at the last straightaway and saw so many people,” Senefeld said. “It was only 500 meters, so your animal instincts kick in, and you say, ‘You got to go.’ You just want to pass anyone you can.”

Coach Mike Nelson dismissed claims that the size of the race threw off the men.

“A lot of them said they felt flat this weekend,” Nelson said. “And I don’t think that has to do with the size. It just has to do with a tough week in school — several of them are getting over colds. And you have that once in a while.”

Nelson said there was “no room for error,” and that an off-day, performance-wise, got “overly extrapolated.” Sixty spots were separated by only 15 seconds.

In Peoria, the women’s team battled in a different manner – figuring out its pacing and best strategies to succeed.

Nelson said the leaders of the women’s team ran their best race and that the team is peaking at the right time.

“This was the best meet of the year for the seniors,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew we could be in the top 10. And we were.”

Even though the seniors seem to improving in time for conference, the women experienced another race led by a freshman, this time Meyle.

“It was my first 6K race,” Meyle said. “And I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of time. I was pleasantly surprised I did as well. I started at near the back and didn’t catch up until the end of the race.”

Nelson was pleased with Meyle’s first 6K.

“I thought she ran a very intelligent race. She was out controlled and mentally strong, and she passed girls throughout the entire race,” Nelson said.