Team looks to improve for Ohio Valley Conference races

The Racer cross country teams traveled to South Bend, Ind., Friday to compete in the Notre Dame Invitational.

The women had a strong performance finishing sixth out of 15 teams while the men had a tougher time finishing 17th.

Junior Carolyne Tanui lead the women’s team finishing in tenth place. She ran a 17:59-her best time ever-at the 5K. Freshman Abbie Ashbee-Simmonds finished close behind in 14th place with a time of 18:05. Ashbee-Simmonds also set a personal record. Sophomore Abbie Oliver ran a personal record 18:38 to finish in 44th place. Senior Rebecca Hbetamu finished in 48th place with a time of 18:45. Sophomore Brittany Bohn, junior Anna Grimes and freshman Jacquelyn Thate all ran personal bests: 19:05 for Bohn, 19:53 for Grimes and a 20:18 for Thate.

Head Coach Jenny Severns said she is really happy with how her women’s team is running.

“At Vanderbilt (last week) we were a little more than a minute and a half between our No. 1 (runner) and our No. 5 (runner),” she said. “This past week we were a minute and five seconds. Everyone is really starting to close the gap. They are starting to run more as a pack and help each other out.”

The womens team have a group of five girls that run well as a group and tend to change the order at the end of each race. “They help each other out,” Severns said. “It seems like every meet the order of our top seven is different. A couple of people might finish in the same spot but people flip-flop a lot. And that is good, it just shows that they work well together and if somebody has a bad day there is another person their to step up and fill the gap.”

On the men’s side, freshman Lucas Prather lead the team to the finish line again. Prather ran a 26:51, a personal record, and finished in 93rd place. Freshman Jarred Koerner finished with a personal best time of 27:16 and placed 104th in the race. Prather has established himself in the leader position on the men’s team, Severns said. However, Koerner is close to him and could pull closer every meet. She said they work well together which is part of why they have been successful this year.

Every meet Severns sees improvement with her teams, with their times dropping and runners getting tougher during the race.

“I think since our team is so young it is a learning process,” she said. “Not only are they getting better but they are getting smarter in how they race and tougher throughout the entire races.”

This past week the team’s strategy was just go for it, get out and race people, to not worry about sprints or about times, just race people.

“We have to be able to go out hard and long if that is how people go out at OVC or we have to be able to go out more conservatively and sprint,” Severns said. “Each race we try something different. We want to be prepared for any type of race.”

The teams will compete next on Oct. 13. They will travel to two different sites. Part of the team will go to Louisville, Ky., to compete at the Pre-NCAA Nationals. The rest of the team will travel to Owensboro, Ky., for the Fast Cats Invitational. The team will then focus on the Ohio Valley Conference Championships on Oct. 27 in Jacksonville, Ala.

Jaci Kohn, Assistant Sports Editor