Cross Country Royals Run Well At ODAC Championships

(photo by Scott Eyre)
(photo by Scott Eyre)

Eastern Mennonite's cross country teams each had solid finishes at Saturday morning's ODAC Championships in Buena Vista, Va. Working through a few injuries, the teams came home with three All-ODAC awards, as well as a pair of major awards from the conference.

The Royals now have an off week before the South/Southeast Region Championships, which are Nov. 12 in Rome, Ga.

Despite being hampered by a hip injury, senior Alec Thibodeaux (Mount Sidney, Va./Fort Defiance) had enough to push to an All-ODAC finish. The senior ran with the lead pack the first half of the race and even walked for a short time, before a strong finish landed him at 11th in 26:58.4. Freshman Abrham Amine (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg) ran a steady race and finished not far behind his teammate in 13th, clocking at 27:05.9. Both men earned All-ODAC Second Team honors.

Steven Anhold (Churchville, Va./Fort Defiance) passed a runner late to move into 18th place, crossing in 27:21.8. The top 14 earned All-ODAC status. Jared Nisly (Lancaster, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) wasn't far behind, taking 22nd in 27:33.7. Freshman Ben Stutzman (Lancaster, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) rounded out the scoring five when he took 34th in 28:08.8.

Tyler Denlinger (Perkasie, Pa./Christopher Dock) ran a season PR and finished 38th in 28:18.2.Tim Martin (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg) came in 48th in 28:45.7.

"We were lucky to have Alec and Abrham run today," explained Coach Isaac Bryan, "as they've both been battling injuries the last two weeks. I was impressed with their toughness. Jared and Steven helped us round out a solid four. Ben Stutzman finished well to be our fifth today. He stepped into big shoes as a freshman."

The Royals put together 94 points for their fourth place finish, 21 points in front of Roanoke. Bridgewater was third with 69.

Host Washington and Lee claimed both men's titles. Senior Mac Strehler crossed 18 seconds ahead of the second place runner for individual gold, while the Generals had four in the top eight to total just 32 points for the team crown.

Bryan said that while the men ran a solid race, there is still room for improvement.

"It's a tough course, but we had great preparation and weather today so that helped," he said. "We were hoping for top three on the team side. We fell short of that goal today. Hopefully we can get back to where we need to be at Regionals."

On the women's side, Eastern Mennonite showed off the power of the pack. Despite only landing one All-ODAC individual finish, the women had all five scorers in the top 25 and took third place with 103 points.

"Our pack for the women was fantastic," Bryan said. "They all ran together for the first 2k. I thought it would be a battle to finish top three on the team side, so I was impressed to see us finish where we did."

Freshman Megan Good (Harrisonburg, Va./Eastern Mennonite) ran with the pack early before stretching out ahead of her teammates midway through the 6k race. She finished with a PR time of 24:16.2, taking 13th place to earn All-ODAC Second Team accolades.

The rest of the pack stayed together well. Juni Schirch (Goshen, Ind./Goshen) crossed 20th in 24:48.6, a season-best time for the fifth-year senior. Laurie Serrell (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg) was within talking distance, timing at 24:50.9 in 21st place. Three spots later came Elizabeth Nisly (Bluffton, Ohio/Bluffton), taking 24th in 25:02.3. Kat Lehman (Dover, Ohio/Dover) was 25th in 25:04.9.

Freshmen Emma Hoover (New Carlisle, Ohio/Tecumseh) and Hannah Nichols (Fredericksburg, Va./Courtland) rounded out to top seven. Hoover was 37th in 26:10.5 and Nichols was 43rd in 26:40.5.

"Megan had a phenomenal race," Bryan said of his top finisher. "This is only her second season running cross country but it hasn't seemed like it this year. She helped pull everyone along. It was also great to see Juni finish her last conference race so well."

Washington and Lee swept the team titles, with the Generals' women totaling 38 points. Kerri Dalton of Roanoke took individual gold by 14 seconds.

Major Awards
The top freshman in the ODAC most of the year and in Saturday's race, Abrham Amine was named the men's Rookie of the Year. He was the only freshman to earn All-ODAC status at the ODAC Championships.

Kat Lehman, a two-time All-ODAC honoree and NCAA Nationals participant, was voted as the women's Farm Bureau Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She holds a 4.00 GPA as a biology (pre-med) major at Eastern Mennonite, adding minors of Spanish and honors.