Royals Show Depth And Talent In Year-Opening Meet

Allison Shelly took 3:15 off her time from last year's meet at Bridgewater. (photo by Scott Eyre)
Allison Shelly took 3:15 off her time from last year's meet at Bridgewater. (photo by Scott Eyre)

EMU's cross country teams had a great start to the 2019 season at Friday's Bridgewater XC Challenge.

Despite warm and sunny conditions, both the men and women ran well with each taking third place as a team.

Sophomore Isaac Alderfer (Broadway, Va./Broadway) was the top individual finisher for the Royals crossing fourth out of 66 runners in the three-mile men's race. As a whole, the EMU men showed great depth, with all seven of their scoring runners landing in the top 24.

The women's results were skewed by D-I James Madison, who had 15 of the top 19 finishers. Senior Abigail Shelly (Collinsville, Miss./West Lauderdale) crossed 21st overall, but was the sixth D-III finisher to lead the Royals. The women were second amongst D-III teams, edging host Bridgewater by 13 points.

The Royals are back on the course next week Friday, but this time at home, hosting the EMU Mennonite Heritage Cross Country Invitational. Friday's home meet starts at 6:00pm and will be the first meet on EMU's campus since 2002. The course starts behind neighboring Eastern Mennonite School and runs loops along the neighboring sports fields of the two campus. The finish line is just to the east of the EMU Turf Field.

Bridgewater XC Challenge – 3M
EMU Men:
3rd place of 6 teams (60 points); Winner: Washington and Lee - 29
Top Finisher: Isaac Alderfer – 4th (16:39.2)
Scoring Team: Clay Kauffman – 12th (17:20.7), Justice Allen – 14th (17:28.7); Nathan Yoder – 16th (17:46.6); Collin Longenecker – 19th (18:04.4); Andrew Nord – 22nd (18:19.9); Jansen Miller – 24th (18:27.4)
Others: Charlie Thornton – 26th (18:30.4); Caleb Hostetler – 32nd (18:57.7); Meckias Abera – 37th (19:13.3); Dawson Woodruff – 40th (19:53.3); Seth Andreas – 49th (20:56.2); Isaac Andreas – 52nd (21:01.9); Shane Gray – 58th (21:39.5)

Bridgewater XC Challenge – 4K
EMU Women:
3rd place of 9 teams (110 points); Winner: JMU – 15
Top Finisher: Abigail Shelly – 21st (16:32.5)
Scoring Team: Elizabeth Nisly – 28th (17:25.6); Allison Shelly – 29th (17:25.7); Megan Good – 44th (18:07.0); Elizabeth Miller – 46th (18:20.1); Emma Hoover – 47th (18:30.1); Savannah Bontrager – 63rd (20:34.6)

Coach Bob Hepler said:
In the 1970s TV show KUNG FU starring David Carradine, the master monk (Master Po) says to the young student, "you cannot run fast or far unless you are fit." The EMU XC athletes are not very fit at the moment, but they are quickly getting there. They are working very hard each day. We did a full workout followed by strength on Thursday. Friday I had them do a 50' workout that ended 10' before the race. They didn't complain. They put on their race shoes, drank some icy cold water and put the ODAC on notice that the Scampering Royals are deep, fast and talented.

On the men's side Isaac Alderfer ran well despite not even wearing race shoes. The Broadway Bullet (Clay Kauffman) continues to develop incredibly quickly. And the Waynesboro Wombat (Justice Allen) ran almost a full minute faster than last year on the same course.

On the women's side the Abigail Shelly capped a great summer of training with a great race. Elizabeth Nisly ran beautifully after bouncing back from a major injury. Finally, there is Allison Shelly. Her teammates call her The Mississippi Badger. Last year Allison joined the team because she knew that we needed her to field a team. After not running for several years, the season was a struggle. I can't believe this is the same athlete. She is fast and strong. Like a badger. I am so proud of her.

I can't wait to see this team in October and November when they are fit. Master Po will be pleased.