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Women’s cross country finishes 8th while Kreuz qualifies for Nationals; men take 9th

November 25th, 2013

Women’s Cross Country

[By Haley Turner]

The John Carroll University women’s cross country team put together a strong race at the 2013 NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional Championships, held at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. on Saturday.

Taking eighth place, JCU’s finish was not quite good enough for a spot in the National Championships, ending the team’s season.

But one individual runner, senior Gabriella Kreuz, was not ready to be done competing.

The senior has had an impressive four-year career as a Blue Streak. An All-Conference and All-Ohio runner, Kreuz can now be referred to as an All-Region honoree and National Championship qualifier. With her 13th place finish, Kreuz will represent JCU on Saturday in Hanover, Ind.

Kreuz ran an incredible time of 22:14.4 on the 6K course, a personal best. Initially, Kreuz was not sure she qualified, because JCU did not make it as a team. But her finish was good enough to earn her one of the seven individual qualifying spots given to solo runners.

While Kreuz certainly excelled at the end of this cross country season, she had to overcome a lot to get to this point.

“Making it to Nationals is especially rewarding being a senior and considering how this season started for me,” Kreuz said. “I was coming off two seasons of injury and then I was anemic so I wasn’t running too hot for the first three to four meets. But my coaches and teammates never let me feel sorry for myself and I have them to thank for getting me back up to speed and getting some confidence back.”

The rest of the squad certainly had races to be proud of as well. Freshman Becky Rohwer finished off an excellent rookie season by placing 44th with a time of 23:05.4. Just one second behind her was junior Emily Mapes (45th, 23:06.8).

Finishing next for the Blue Streaks was senior Taylor Whisler, who played an integral part in the Ohio Athletic Conference Championship title. Whisler crossed the line at 23:27.5, which earned her 63rd place. Junior Jenny Vrobel finished fifth for JCU and 68th overall (23:33.8). Sophomore Hanna Sterle and senior Caroline Kapela also competed for JCU, and were 83rd (23:49.9) and 91st (24:00.9), respectively.

Even though the women’s team will not be continuing on to compete at Nationals, the squad still has its remarkable OAC Championship to hold onto.

“I’m so blessed to have been a part of something so special,” Kreuz said. “I couldn’t think of a better ending to my collegiate cross country career.”

 

Men’s Cross Country

[By Joe Ginley]

Under the direction of head coach Dara Ford and her coaching staff, the John Carroll University men’s cross country team has taken huge strides in recent years. The Blue Streaks took another step forward last Saturday at the 2013 NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional Championships.

The Blue and Gold notched a ninth place finish at the season-ending meet, marking the squad’s third consecutive top-10 finish at Regionals, hosted this year by Calvin College.

Junior Tadhg Karski led the pack, as he has for most of the season. Ending an outstanding campaign, Karski earned a 32nd place finish with a time of 26:04.2 on the 8K course. The junior was named to the All-Great Lakes Region team for his efforts.

“It felt good to lead the team at Regionals,” Karski said. “I was pretty satisfied with the season as a whole, but the goal is always to improve and to do better. So I look forward to next season as well.”

Ford was also pleased with Karski’s performance.

“He was our sixth guy last year, so to make the jump from sixth to first is really a really cool story,” Ford said. “He’s by far the most consistent guy we had all year. His attitude is great and his work ethic is unmatched.”

JCU’s duo of senior Chuck Mulé and sophomore Patrick O’Brien gave the Blue Streaks three runners in the top 50. Mulé came in at 44th (26:17.8), while O’Brien crossed just one second behind (26:18.6) to take 48th.

Junior John Honkala narrowly missed out on a top 50 finish, clocking in at 26:21.7 to take 52nd.

Sophomore Matt Chojnacki rounded out the scoring for the Blue and Gold with a 104th place finish (27:13.3). Sophomores Michael Hurley (27:14.2) and Drake Sulzer (27:18.0) also represented the Blue Streaks on Saturday.

Though the squad did not achieve its goals of winning an Ohio Athletic Conference Championships and reaching the NCAA Division III National Championships, the Blue Streaks had a solid season.

“It was a fine finish,” Ford said. “Everybody was hoping for a little bit more. The problem we had this year is that we didn’t really have all five guys run really well on the same day. We always had three or four run really well and another run a regular race.”

The Blue and Gold won the Ric Sayre Invitational on Sept. 7, finished third out of 22 teams at the National Catholic Championship on Sept. 20, second out of 21 teams at the All-Ohio Championships on Oct. 4 and second at the OAC Championships on Nov. 2.

“The future is always bright,” Ford said.