Royals Runners Impress At ODAC Championships

Justice Allen ran his best 8k time ever on Saturday. (photo by Scott Eyre)
Justice Allen ran his best 8k time ever on Saturday. (photo by Scott Eyre)

Talk about peaking at the right time. Of EMU's 21 cross country runners, 16 of them broke their PR at Saturday's ODAC Championships in Salem, Va.

The Eastern Mennonite University women took fourth place as a team, ahead of rivals Roanoke and Bridgewater. The men were fifth of 12 teams in their race, easily surpassing Shenandoah and BC.

Junior Justice Allen (Waynesboro, Va./Waynesboro) was the top individual finisher for the Royals, claiming 18th. His PR time of 26:13.0 was more than a minute faster than his previous best, and 1:23 better than an 8k he ran three weeks ago at Christopher Newport.

Isaac Alderfer (Broadway, Va./Broadway) gutted through an injury to take 21st in 26:27.5, while senior Collin Longenecker (Harrisonburg, Va./Turnery Ashby) broke his PR for the second straight race, this time cutting off a whopping 1:41 to finish 28th. He finished 71st at last year's ODAC Championships.

On the women's side, the Royals' top five each earned points for places between 19th and 28th. Abigail Shelly (Collinsville, Miss./West Lauderdale) again led the way, this time running a sub-24 for the first time in her career. The senior ran a 23:59.9 in the 6k, which she expects to be her last collegiate race. Shelly recently qualified for Nationals as part of EMU's women's triathlon team, with that race in Tempe, Az., on the same day as Regionals for the cross country team.

Elizabeth Miller (Archbold, Ohio/Archbold) was the team's second finisher, timing at 24:09.3 to break her PR by almost 55 seconds.

The Royals teams get next weekend off as they prepare for the South/Southeast Regional Championships on Nov. 16. The meet is hosted by Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.

ODAC Championships – 8k
EMU Men:
5th place of 12 teams (137 points)
Top Finisher: Justice Allen – 18th of 124 (26:13.0-PR)
Scoring Team: Isaac Alderfer – 21st (26:27.5-PR); Collin Longenecker – 28th (26:49.1-PR); Clay Kauffman – 37th (27:16.3-PR); Nathan Yoder – 46th (27:37.6-PR); Isaac Andreas – 63rd (28:33.2-PR); Thomas Guadalupe-Johnson – 66th (28:36.6-PR)

Others: Andrew Nord – 76th (29:12.4-PR); Meckias Abera – 80th (29:17.4-PR); Caleb Hostetler – 82nd (29:25.3-PR); Jansen Miller – 85th (29:46.0); Charlie Thornton – 87th (29:53.2); Seth Andreas – 91st (30:25.7-PR); Zach Munoz – 98th (30:55.7-PR)

ODAC Championships – 6k
EMU Women:
4th place of 12 teams (112 points)
Top Finisher: Abigail Shelly – 26th of 99 (23:59.9-PR)
Scoring Team: Elizabeth Miller – 27th (24:09.3-PR); Megan Good – 32nd (24:26.5); Elizabeth Nisly – 35th (24:37.7); Allison Shelly – 43rd (25:07.3-PR); Emma Hoover – 62nd (26:29.5); Savannah Bontrager – 74th (27:41.5-PR)

Coach Bob Hepler said:
Coach Cam and I are pleased with the progress of the team. Last year our cross country teams were competing with the lower half of the conference. This year we were very competitive. Both teams were a good break away from breaking top three in the ODAC.

The seniors on EMU's women's team have endured so much over the last four years. Coaching changes, broken bones, and the challenge of being among EMU's top students has taken a toll. Yet there were Abigail Shelly, Megan Good, Elizabeth Nisly and Emma Hoover giving their all for a solid fourth place finish. Savannah Bontrager, Liz Miller and Allison Shelly all had PRs to cap off a great day.

The hobbled men's team was also mixing it up with the ODAC's top teams despite the Great Badger of Misfortune drooling upon them. Isaac Alderfer's groin was broke, Collin Longenecker's Achilles was broke, Clay Kauffman's and Nate Yoder's bodies were broke and virtually every other member of the team is overcoming major illnesses or congenital joint issues. Somehow despite all this, almost every member of the team PRed.  Today's performance was truly miraculous.

I am so proud of both teams. They are amazing people, students and athletes. God blessed me with the opportunity to coach them. I am truly grateful.