Runners set records in conference championship

Freshman James Chute and Sophomore Jordan Althoff approach the finish at the OVC Championship. || Photo courtesy of Sports Information

Freshman James Chute and Sophomore Jordan Althoff approach the finish at the OVC Championship. || Photo courtesy of Sports Information

The Murray State men’s and women’s Cross Country teams broke multiple career records over the weekend in Oxford, Ala. at the OVC Championships.

With nearly half the team posting new personal bests, Head Coach Jenny Severns was excited for her teams.

“We see them work out everyday so we know they can do it,” Severns said. “It’s good that they are proving it to themselves.”

The women’s team finished in fourth place, while the men finished the race 11th.

Severns said she was not happy with the teams’ placing, but was thrilled with the runner’s times.

“I think at a conference meet the place is obviously more important than the times,” she said. “So I think we could have done a little better in that area. The OVC is getting better and better every year. If we had run the times on the women’s side, we would have won last year.”

The first runner who crossed the finish line for the women was freshman Abbie Ashbee-Simmonds. She finished in eighth place and ran a 17:35.25, a career-best for her. Junior Carolyne Tanui also posted her own best time of 17:52.02 and ended up in 11th.

Other runners to set personal records were freshman Leah Krause, finishing with a time of 19:22.18, and junior Anna Grimes with a time of 19:28.54.

“I think for the women it was really big that Abbie Ashbee-Simonds and Carolyne Tanui were All-OVC,” Severns said. “That was a really big highlight.”

The first runner in for the Racer men was freshman Lucas Prather, with a 48th place finish and a career-best time of 26:40.82. Close behind him in 56th, was freshman Jarrod Koerner, who posted a time of 27:09.37 – a career best for him as well.

Sophomore Jordan Althoff and freshman Clayton Hall also ran career best times, finishing 64th and 66th respectively. Althoff ran a 28:25.22 and Hall crossed the finish line with a time of 28:31.08.

While the team is extremley young – sporting a roster of six freshmen and three sophomores – Prather said he was pleased with his team’s finish.

“We are a young team with mostly freshmen, so we were very inexperienced going into it,” he said. “I think it was a good first OVC for the freshman class. Me, individually, I wanted my place to be up a little bit. But I did run a (personal record), so I have to be happy about that. The competition was very tough. There were a lot of upperclassmen in the front.”

Every runner on the men’s team recorded career-best times, which Severns said is a step in the right direction.

“Your first OVC is always tough,” she said. “And since all of our guys are freshman, they just didn’t know what to do. They handled it fairly well. I think next year they will be ready to do something big. I think next year we will go in and shoot for the top half of the conference. I definitely think we’re capable.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams have this weekend off, before traveling to Charlotte, N.C.` Nov. 9 for the NCAA Southeast Regional.

Story by Jaci Kohn, Assistant Sports Editor.