By: Matt Stainbrook ~Guest Writer~
Xavier men’s and women’s cross country looks to improve from last year after losing a big senior class including NCAA National Championship qualifier Clare Fischer.
Also, the men’s team lost Tom Ohlman, who earned NCAA All-Region honors his junior year before missing his senior year due to injury. The men’s side is now led by seniors Corey Zielinski, Connor Buchholz and Matt Orlando while the women’s side is led by senior Audrey Ramos and junior Sarah Mazzei.
Both teams will begin their respective seasons Sep. 5 at the Queen City Invitational in Mason, Ohio. They will compete against Northern Kentucky University, along University of Cincinnati, Wright State University and other area schools from the region.
Last year the women’s team won the team title at the event, with alumn Abby Fischer finishing first overall and three other Musketeers finishing in the top five.
On a recent trip to Lake Hope State Park, the teams completed a preseason camp that included team building exercises and intensive training.
This past Saturday both teams held a time trial. Audrey Ramos led a pack made up of several standout freshman and transfer Meghan Vogel.
In addition to Vogel, this year’s team has added nine freshman runners to the women’s team.
Many of the new runners have proved to be able to keep pace as many of the incoming freshmen girls posted impressive times during the time trials.
The men’s time trial was steered by Buchholz and Zielinski. Three incoming freshmen men have been added to the team and have had no problems fitting in with their new team.
With the addition of these freshman, Xavier cross country has not only a promising distant future but also the immediate future as many of these freshmen are sure to make an immediate impact on the eight-kilometer college course.
With upcoming meets looming, the Musketeers will hit the course hard during practice to cut times in order to compete in the Big East as the season starts up at the beginning of September.
Xavier looks to improve on both the boys’ and girls’ side when the Conference Championship approaches at the end of October. An improvement by both teams at the meet will begin to establish their positions as formidable opponents in the Big East.
On the recent time trial, Orlando noted that it is “always a good gauge of where the team stands fitness-wise in order to focus on the training for the rest of the year.” Xavier’s other meets include the National Catholic Invitational and the Notre Dame Invitational, both held in South Bend, Ind.
The Cross Country Big East Championship will be held on Oct. 31 in Indianapolis, hosted by Butler University. The Big East Championship will be followed by the NCAA Great Lakes Regional on Nov. 14 in Madison, Wis.
For those that qualify, the NCAA Cross Country Championships will occur on Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Ind.