The Ohio State University men’s and women’s cross country teams got off to a hot start last weekend at the Mountaineer Open in North Carolina.
The men’s team, led by redshirt senior Jake Edwards, took first place out of seven teams, placing six runners in the top 10. Edwards finished first overall, in a time of 19:28.1, and was also named the Big Ten Runner of the Week on Tuesday.
“It was a good confidence booster,” redshirt senior Dan White said. “But I think what was even more of a confidence booster was that we were able to go hard the first mile and stay together throughout the whole race.”
The men’s 21 point total score bested host Appalachian State by 43 points, who finished in second place with a total of 64 points.
This weekend’s fourth-place finisher, posting a 19:39.8, was Michael Brajdic, one of the seven new freshmen on the men’s team this season. With the addition of this depth, the team has its sights set on a top-two finish in the Big Ten, a feat that would earn it a bid for the National Championship.
“Our goal every year is to finish top three, but we really want an automatic bid (for the national championship) this year,” White said.
But White and his team believe that is well within reach.
“Whenever you have a team with five seniors on it, expectations are really high,” White said.
Edwards and Taylor Williams, who finished fifth with a time 19:44.1, were the only two of the five team senior to score in this meet. The scorers were rounded out by juniors Donny Roys, who took second with a 19:35.3 time, and Julian Meyer, who came in ninth, recording a time of 19:54.3.
The women were just as impressive finishing the race with a perfect score of 15, placing five runners in the top five spots.
Senior redshirt Jordan Jennewine led the way for the women posting a time of 18:11.2 in her first race back since missing the 2010 season with an injury.
“I’m definitely glad to be back out there and competing,” Jennewine said. “I really missed being a part of the team.”
Jennewine’s return bodes well for the team, said assistant coach Chris Neal.
“Having her back is huge,” he said. “It really helps us with our depth, and even just putting a front runner out there who can compete with the best in the nation.”
And although a top five sweep is impressive, both Jennewine and Neal are more excited about something else.
“From our first runner to our fifth runner there was only a nine second spread,” Neal said.
Jennewine echoed Neal and added that this is uncommon for the team.
“This is the first year we’ve really been able to get a close spread like this, where our top five runners are really close together,” Jennewine said.
Junior Tori Brink and sophomore Mallory Kreider finished at the tail end of the top five, placing fourth and fifth respectively. The two finished within three-tenths of a second of one another, with Brink logging an 18:20.5 and Kreider coming in at 18:20.8.
The meet was also the debut for the freshmen, Nicole Hilton and Michelle Thomas, who placed second with 18:16.2 and third at 18:17.9 respectively.
With the addition of the freshmen, Jennewine is hoping they can add significant depth to their team.
“It’s exciting because you always know what you have from the previous season, but when you get freshmen that can step in and make a contribution right away … that’s really helping us out,” she said.
The meet consisted of seven teams including Ohio State, host Appalachian State, Queens University, Northern Kentucky University (men only), East Tennessee State University, Western Carolina, University and UNC-Asheville.
The men have a week off to prepare for the Notre Dame Open in South Bend, Ind., on Sept. 30, while the women will travel to Toledo Friday, to race in the Toledo Inter-Regional Bubble Buster.