The Eastern Mennonite cross country teams ran through the mud today at the Gettysburg Invitational. This meet marked the first truly chilly weather of the season, as well as the first race in which the runners were set loose to run as hard as they could.
The men ran first on this battlefield course, braving the mud puddles and dodging the mud ponds in their 8K race.
Freshman Isaac Alderfer (Broadway, Va./Broadway) finished first for the EMU men with a time of 28:04 and 67th place out of 276 runners.
Next came sophomore Justice Allen (Waynesboro, Va./Waynesboro), overcoming his previous night's illness (when he was unable to successfully finish a plate of spaghetti and meatballs) in addition to the terrain (on which he successfully completed an 8-kilometer race), with 29:32 and 110.
Charles Thornton (Hamilton, Va./Loudoun Valley) charged through the finish next, earning a big PR of 31:16 and placement of 139.
And EMU's cross country team is not limited to just one blond freshman Isaac; today Isaac Andreas (Bluffton, Ohio/Bluffton) made his collegiate debut. Just steps behind Thornton, Andreas came in at 31:22 and 140th place.
Jack Rice (Palmyra, Va./Fluvanna County) finished next for EMU, earning 32:05 and 147th place.
Senior Derrick Chirinos (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg) was unable to finish due to a hip flexor injury.
The men earned 21st place overall out of 28 teams.
"The guys were mixed bag today," said Head Coach Bob Hepler. "There's a lot of sickness and there's a lot of weird things going on in their heads...The good news with the guys is that most of the guys that are typically behind them all had significant PRs today. Charlie Thornton dropped another minute, Collin dropped another two minutes, Isaac Andreas, I don't know how that happened today, but I think he's gonna make our regionals team now."
He paused, marveling at his freshman wunderkind.
"There were some amazing things that happened today," he said. "Just, you know, a little disappointing for me overall. I was excited about Gettysburg for weeks and the conditions weren't perfect and that affected us. I think we're gonna learn a lot, get mentally stronger. I think because of today, that things didn't go perfectly, we're gonna be that much more ready for ODACs, and Regionals, too."
The women's 6K was next. The mud puddles had become mud ravines thanks to the hundreds of spiked feet churning up the fields from the men's race.
Senior Laurie Serrell (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg) came in first for the women, earning 43rd place and a time of 24:44.
"Laurie maybe had the first or second best race of her XC career," said Coach Hepler. "It was a very sloppy course and footing was rough and she just kept chugging away and just looked better every time I saw her in the race."
Junior Elizabeth Nisly (Bluffton, Ohio/Bluffton) finished next with 25:03 and 53rd place out of 318 runners.
"If there's anything that held her back today," mused Coach Hepler, "it might have been a little bit of fatigue, even though my nickname for her is Indestructible."
"I think the race of the day for the women was with Emma Hoover," said Coach Hepler. "She was really committed to closing the gap with Abigail. We challenged her to do that and that's what she did today."
Allison Shelly (Collinsville, Miss./West Lauderdale) was the women's fifth place finisher with a PR of 27:58 and place of 138.
"Allison also was phenomenal," Coach Hepler added. "She just gets better and better."
Finishing the race for EMU was Kellie Serrell (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg) with a time of 31:29 and place of 175.
The EMU women earned 16th out of 30 teams.
"Well, I thought the ladies, as always, did really well," said Coach Hepler. "We're very proud of the women, I think they're set up for a really good meet at ODACs. We've got some special workouts coming up to help them get ready for that."
EMU cross country competes next at the ODAC Championship on Saturday, October 27, hosted by Shenandoah University.
-- by Elizabeth Nisly, EMU Sports Information Writing Intern