For both John Carroll University men’s and women’s cross country teams, to say it was a successful past weekend would be an understatement. In what was both teams’ final competition of the 2011 season, the Blue Streaks provided great performances on Saturday, Nov. 12. The men’s cross country team claimed eighth place out of 35 teams while the women’s team finished in sixth place out of 36 teams in the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional.
The 8,000 meter race was held at the Oberlin College Woodchip Trail. The men’s team was the top-placing school among Ohio Athletic Conference schools, while the women’s team placed second in the competition among OAC schools behind the second place Ohio Northern University Polar Bears.
Junior Nick Wojtasik led all Blue Streaks’ competitors on the men’s side of the bracket as he finished with an impressive time of 26:06.98. Wojtasik’s time earned him 36th place overall in the event, one spot short of earning All-Region honors, which are awarded to the top 35 runners in each bracket. Sophomore Chuck Mulé and junior Pat Burns were the next two Blue Streaks to cross the finish line in Oberlin, claiming 46th and 47th places with impressive finish times of 26:19.72 and 26:30.77, respectively. Seniors Jake Smith and Will Rial also finished their final collegiate competition right next to each other, finishing in 66th and 67th place with times of 26:39.98 and 26:42.64, respectively.
On the women’s side of the bracket, freshman Emily Mapes led the pack for JCU as she finished in 48th place overall with a finish time of 22:54.58. Sophomore Anna Busta claimed 56th place overall in the event, finishing with a time of 23:06.59. The sister duo of both freshman Bridget Hanna and junior Molly Hanna proved to be an impressive pair, as they finished in 58th place and 65th place, respectively, as the freshman Hanna finished with a time of 23:10.07 and the junior Hanna recorded a time of 23:14.56.
“As a coaching staff, we could not be more proud of what the men and women have accomplished this year,” said head coach Dara Ford. “At camp, they set a goal to be the best cross country team ever at John Carroll. They did just that.”
Both teams finished every competition this season with a top 10 finish, proving that the 2011 campaign was an impressive one for both the men’s and women’s team. As the teams begin to look forward to the 2012 cross country season, there is no question that expectations will be high for these two talented squads.
“Both the men and women really dedicated themselves to the program and it has paid dividends. They deserve all the success they achieved this season,” said coach Ford. “These are two teams that have a tremendous future ahead of them. Both teams will be toeing the line at the National Championships next year.”
In the 2010 Great Lakes Regional, the Blue Streaks finished in 22nd place on the men’s side of the bracket and in 18th place in the women’s bracket. With the men improving upon last year’s finish by 14 spots and the women improving upon last year’s placing by 12 spots, it is obvious that coach Ford and the Blue Streaks had more than a successful season.
The sixth place finish in the Great Lakes Regional by the women’s team was the highest finish ever for the women’s cross country team in Blue Streaks’ program history. With the men finishing first among OAC contenders in eighth place, that marks not only the first time ever that the Blue Streaks have been the highest placing OAC school in the event, but it also marks the highest finish in program history for the men’s team as well.