AU cross country looking to build on 2019-2020 season



Sophomore Abby Moser running at the Northwood Invite

Nate Powalie, Sports Columnist

The Ashland University men’s and women’s cross country teams kicked off their 2019-2020 two weeks ago at the Northwood Invite in Michigan.

The men finished 19th out of 32 teams in last year’s midwest regional at Hillsdale College, while the women placed 20th in a 29-team field. In the GLIAC, the men finished in sixth place while the women managed to come out in the eighth position.

When looking back, AU is reflecting on what they did best and adding to it.

“As a team, we always look back at what we did in seasons past and look at what we can do to improve,” junior runner Tracy Morgan said. “We always strive to get better and stronger as a team.”

The 2019 season began with the men taking the second spot out of six in a 6K field, while the women finished third out of five teams. This year’s teams see three seniors on the roster for the men and two for the women’s.

The hard work begins in the summer for both squads.

“We built a nice base for ourselves after training hard this summer and we are continuing to build on it,” Morgan said.

Leading the way for the men was senior Steve Kapes with a finishing time of 19:04.4, followed up by senior Kyle Shively with a time of 19:15.6.

The Eagles also received top-20 finishes from juniors Nick Reimund and Ian Johnson, as well as sophomore Jake Hall and junior Connor Ingram.

Looking on the women’s side of the 5K race, sophomore Abby Moser paced the way for the Eagles with a tenth-place finish and a personal best race time of 19:17. Right behind her was senior Johannah Stefanek in 11th with a time of 19:21.8.

Moser’s personal best time of 19:17 beat her old high school record for a 5K time by 10 seconds. The native of Whitehouse, Ohio is looking to add another trophy to her case this year after obtaining an academic award from the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association last season.

Other top finishers include senior Haylee Zigan with a 25th place finish in 20:21.3, and freshman Emma Hinkle placed 26th in her debut race with a time of 20:23.6.

In terms of points on the leaderboard, the men had 53, while the women finished with 82.
Most recently, the Eagle men’s and women’s cross country teams competed at the Michigan Spartan Invitational on Sept. 13.

Featured in the MSU Invite were GLIAC foes Ferris State, Grand Valley State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan, Northwood, Purdue Northwest, Saginaw Valley State and Wisconsin at Parkside.

In the men’s 8K race, Ashland finished 11th overall or 23 team, but fifth among Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference teams. The women’s 6K race saw Ashland place 19th overall, and eighth among GLIAC sides.

Looking ahead, the Eagles have two more events between now and the GLIAC championships, which will take place this year at Purdue Northwest University in Hammond, Ind. on Oct. 26.
For their upcoming competition, AU will be back on the road for the All-Ohio Championships in Cedarville, Ohio on Sept. 28.

This year features five graduating seniors, and high expectations are placed on the team to improve.

“We were intending on becoming a top-ten team with freshmen and a transfer student to go along with our seniors,” sophomore Matt Long said.

One of the seniors, Haylee Zigan, who is a transfer from Bluffton University, broke her previous 6K record of 24: 37 at the Northwood Invite with a time of 20:21.3.

Another senior member is in his second stint here at AU. Steven Kapes first came to AU after graduating from Solon high school and earned a GLIAC All-Academic Excellence Team award in 2016 as a freshman.

Kapes spent the last two seasons running for Walsh University before transferring back to AU for his senior year.

Along with personal goals, team ideals center around the AU cross country squad dynamic.

“Cross country is heavily involved in team sport. It’s fun to have your friends push you towards personal and team goals,” Long said.