Cross country dominates in season openers

Pat Hickey

Both the Eagles men’s and women’s cross country teams enjoyed convincing victories at the Stegemoller Classic at USI over the weekend.

In the three-team race against Bellarmine and Brescia, USI men’s and women’s finished 33 and 23 points lower than their conference foe Bellarmine.

Sophomore Clay Meyer led the seventh-ranked men’s team with a time of 19 minutes, 21.3 seconds in the six-kilometer race. On the women’s side, junior Erika Wilson finished second with a time of 14 minutes, 42 seconds in the four-kilometer race.

The men’s team finished with four of the top five spots, and the women’s team placed seven of the top eight.

“For us, it was a pretty dominating performance,” head coach Mike Hillyard said. “Several of our runners didn’t race. If we had everyone going, we probably could have gone one through 11. … Knowing what else we have in store was definitely exciting.”

Behind Meyer were a trio of freshmen – Tyler Schickel, Josh Guy and Cody Stone – who placed second, third and fourth.

Junior Soloman Bennett edged out Meyer by 3 tenths of a second but ran unattached. He hasn’t been declared eligible because he transferred from Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix. Last year, Bennett was a NJCAA All-American in the 1.5-kilometers as a sophomore.

Senior Michael Jordan did not race for the Eagles. Hillyard said it was in the best interest of the Jordan and the team for the Division II All-American to complete his training on the side and give the underclassmen the experience. Jordan will run in the Indiana Intercollegiate race on Sept. 14 in Terre Haute, Ind.

“In the grand scheme of things, win-loss record means nothing this early in the season,” Hillyard said. “You could lose to every team up until the conference championships, and it wouldn’t matter.”

Last year at the GLVC Championships, both teams took home first place. This year, the men’s team is looking for their ninth conference title in 10 years, and the women’s team has a chance to win its fourth in the past five years.