Marquette Wire

Cross country starts preparations for BIG EAST championship at Vic Godfrey Open

The+Wayne+E.+Dannehl+course+in+Kenosha%2C+Wisconsin+is+Marquette%27s+de+facto+home+track.
The Wayne E. Dannehl course in Kenosha, Wisconsin is Marquette's de facto home track.

The Wayne E. Dannehl course in Kenosha, Wisconsin is Marquette's de facto home track.

Photo by Maggie Bean

Photo by Maggie Bean

The Wayne E. Dannehl course in Kenosha, Wisconsin is Marquette's de facto home track.

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Last Saturday, the Marquette cross country program competed at the Wayne E. Dannehl National Cross Country Course. The team will make the trek approximately 30 miles south again next month to host the BIG EAST conference championship come Oct. 28. It’s the first time Marquette has hosted the championships since 2013.

The course, located on the campus at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha, has become something like an adopted home since Marquette doesn’t have a true home cross country course on campus.

The concept of a home field advantage is considered less important in cross country than in other sports due to the lack of a crowd. Still, some competitors assert that competing at home, in familiar surroundings, provides a boost.

“Cross country is not really a home field advantage sport,” redshirt junior Meghan Carroll said. “However, since we run at the course so much, we should know the course really well and that could give us a bit of an edge.”

That line of thinking held true over the weekend; both the men’s and women’s cross country teams took first place at the Vic Godfrey Open over the weekend, edging out DePaul, UW-Parkside and UW-Green Bay.

Sophomore Daniel Pederson finished second overall, narrowly besting third-place finisher and teammate Alec Miller, who was named the BIG EAST athlete of the week. Jon Klaiber (4th), Aric Miller (7th) and Brad Eagan (11th) were close behind as well.

Redshirt junior Jessica Parker kept things strong on the women’s side, finishing four seconds ahead of her sister and runner-up Jennifer Parker. Lauren Fuqua, a transfer graduate student from Bradley University, posted her first top ten finish in a Marquette uniform after coming in sixth place overall.

The next time the team races at the Dannehl course will be over a month from now, and in a far more meaningful event than the one last weekend. The cross country team has never won the BIG EAST title, and competing at a course so close to campus gives Marquette its best opportunity in recent memory to do that.

“Conference is usually in cities like New York or Philadelphia,” head coach Mike Nelson said. “So this year, our fans will actually get to see us race up close and personal.”

Hosting also entails a reasonable commute for many of the runners families to come support them. Kenosha lies just north of the border between Illinois and Wisconsin. Thirty-three of Marquette’s 43 cross country runners are from one of the two states.

What is really neat about it is that some of the families and friends of our athletes that normally don’t get to see them race will have the opportunity to do so this year,” Nelson added.

The Golden Eagles are feeling good about their chances of putting on a show for those families, especially given their performance over the weekend. Several talented additions, coupled with an already experienced roster, make it likely that Marquette will be even more ready for the big stage the next time it returns to Dannehl.

“It will be very unique compared to any experiences that anyone has had on the team thus far,” junior Brad Eagan said. “Having the combination of one of the deepest teams Marquette has seen, and racing at our home course for the Big East championship could result in something really special.”

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