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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Cross-country looks to improve on first races

Senior Lexi Keppler finished in first place for the women’s team at the Madison Opener. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

In sports, early season competition allows teams to understand its benchmark for the entire year. For Marquette cross-country, it is no different.

The Golden Eagles were able to get a feel for where they stand when they participated in the Madison Opener Sept. 9. At the event, the men’s team finished sixth, while the women’s team finished seventh out of 15 boys and girls.

Head coach Sean Birren said that despite the teams’ best efforts, he believes they could have competed better at the meet.

“They ran solid,” Birren said. “The guys side, they packed up very well, but they went out too fast. The girls side didn’t really pack like we thought they would, but they still ran solid times.”

Birren said the team’s effort was there, but they never got comfortable during the race. He emphasized the need for strategic pacing and the importance of maintaining composure throughout the race.

First-year Nick Parrell made his collegiate debut at the race, finishing in third place for Marquette with a time of 26 minutes and 11.9 seconds. Parrell said that constant training and lifting has helped him in the transition to the collegiate level.

“The biggest expectation on him is he’s going to gain some strength,” Birren said. “He’s going to continue understanding that 8k run from 5k as a freshman. Gaining that strength to finish these runs from 8k. Age and miles are gonna help him continue to stay with those top two guys a little longer after we race.”

Senior Lexi Keppler, who finished first for the women’s team at the Open, is poised to lead by example this season.

Birren said that he was impressed with Keppler’s attitude and preparation coming into the new year.

“She’s been strong these last couple of meets,” Birren said. “I’m excited about just the way she came into the program this year. She’s ready and she’s healthy. That’s her effort to prepare. This is the year that she is ready to lead the team.”

Keppler said that during the meet, she made sure to focus on keeping the correct pace throughout each leg of the race.

“The first race, our coach wanted us to use it as more of a workout or a tempo workout,” Keppler said. “The strategy was to keep the first two miles slow running and then the third mile, we could do what we wanted.”

After Madison, the teams went to Illinois for the Bradley Intercollegiate Friday, Sept. 15. At the race, the men finished in fourth place and the women finished in third.

As the team looks ahead to the rest of its season, Parrell said he not only wanted to focus on his own improvement, but also focus on helping his teammates.

“Individually, I want to prove myself to the coach,” Parrell said. “Definitely move up as far as I can as a runner, which comes with placement being at the top. Personally, I want to go for 25 to 30 in the 8k. As a team, I still want to contribute and encourage my teammates to work hard.”

This story was written by Dakota Barnes-Rush. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X @DakotaRushMU.

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About the Contributor
Dakota Barnes-Rush
Dakota Barnes-Rush, Sports Reporter
Dakota Barnes-Rush is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin but lives in Miami for 9 years. He's majoring in journalism and is a sports reporter for the Marquette Wire. Outside of the Marquette Wire he enjoys watching the NBA, YouTube and hanging out with friends. Dakota is most excited about learning more about each individual sport he covers. He believes the more he knows about the sport the more successful his stories will be.

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