The Mount Vernon Nazarene University cross country program and Head Coach Chip Wilson are gearing up for what should be another exciting season.
On the men’s side, key runners Josh Richardson, Ellis Gallion, Ben Nielson, and Jake Sherer return to bolster a cross country Program that finished a team best 12th out of 38 teams at the Wilmington College Fall Classic, and 7th out of nine teams at the Crossroads League Championship.
“The 2015 season looks to be promising for our men’s program,” Wilson said. “We are bringing back an experienced group of athletes after losing only one of our top five from last year’s team. More importantly, the attitude and leadership that our veteran runners display impacts our team in a positive way. I do expect that we will be deeper than we have been in the past, and faster toward our front pack. Our guys are very determined this season, and they have come back to campus in shape with great summer mileage on their legs. This senior class is compiled of tremendous leaders that will encourage and push these talented younger runners.”
Richardson, finished with a personal best time of 26:05.7 at the Cedarville All-Ohio Championships last fall. He was named a Daktronics NAIA Scholar Athlete in 2014, as well as the Crossroads League Runner of the Week on two separate occasions. (Sept. 22, Oct. 20)
Gallion, finished with a personal best time of 26:55.2 at the Wilmington College Fall Classic in 2014, and was also named a Daktronics NAIA Scholar Athlete in 2014.
After missing the majority of 2014 due to injury, Nielson looks to rebound with a strong senior year.
Sherer, ran a personal best 27:56.3 time at the Wilmington College Fall Classic in 2014, and had several strong finishes including a 28:10.6 time at the Crossroads League Championships.
Coach Wilson also added: “We have a solid group of freshman runners coming in, and it will be interesting to see how they develop and compete for a spot on this team. I do believe that several of these runners will have an immediate impact on the success of our team. “
Incoming Freshman that will impact the Men’s Cross Country Team include Brenan Crawford, De-Andre Steward, Jacob Lofton, Matt McKenzie, Nikolas Hill, and Noah Menuez.
On the Women’s side, runners Annie Winkler, Katie Driggs, and Rebekah Mullins look to continue success in 2015 after a 12th out of 38th finish at the Wilmington College Fall Classic and a 15th out of 35th finish at the Aquinas College NAIA Great Lakes Classic in 2014.
“The 2015 season is getting off to a good start. We had a few set-backs with illness in the summer with a few our veteran runners, but we are back on track and continuing to get healthy,” Coach Wilson said.
Winkler displayed a strong season in 2014 on her way to winning Crossroads League Runner of the Week honors for October 20th, and running a personal and team best 19:45.5 in 2014. She looks to help the team heading into 2015.
After completing her personal best time of 21:20.6 at the Crossroads League Championship this past fall, Katie Driggs hopes to continue her success in 2015.
Mullins, missed three races in 2014 due to injury, but looks to rebound and build on previous personal bests of 19:09.9 and 20:27.6.
In addition to the veteran returning runners, Coach Wilson sees a competitive spirit being added to the team in the form of a large freshman class.
“Six of the 13 female athletes will be entering their freshmen season so it will be an interesting dynamic to see where they will fit on this team. Based on their high school careers, I do expect that several of these freshman runners will be competing for a spot in the top seven. “
Key freshmen runners include Abby Ellis, Brianna Bolha, Kayla Davies, Kristen Cook, MaKenzie McKirgan, and Megan Milavec.
“With a freshmen class this large, I am thankful for the leaders we have on this team. We have a very young team of runners with no seniors, but we do have a junior class that is full of leaders. The mindset is very positive, and if we can remain healthy, I do expect this women’s team to show improvement and compete well this season,” Wilson added.
Both the Men’s and Women’s seasons begin September 5th at the Ohio Wesleyan Invitational. Check back for the latest updates in Men’s and Women’s Cross Country.