Men's cross country placed seventh and the women’s team placed sixth at the Ohio Valley Conference Championship Saturday morning.
Freshman Roland Prenzler and Senior Landon Skelly led the men’s team in places 22 and 30 respectively. Prenzler finished the 8k with a time of 25:39, a new PR, and a 23-second improvement from the record set at the teams last race at the Bradley Pink Classic. Skelley finished with a time of 25:57.
The race was run on the SIUE Cross Country Course, and Prenzler says that gave him a strategy to follow.
“I was with Landon through most of the race,” Prenzler said. “I was trying to follow him just as if we were in practice, you know? That was the big advantage of racing here … it’s just like it’s a practice and we’re running a tempo run.”
The women’s team was led by a tight pack. Junior Kassidy Dexheimer and Senior Keri Burmester were just two places apart at 23rd and 25th. Dexheimer ran a time of 18:48, a 26-second improvement from the team’s last 5k at the Loyola Lakefront Invitational in Chicago. Burmester finished with a time of 18:56, another improvement of 38 seconds.
Senior Aly Goff, who placed first among the women’s team in every other race this season, has been responsible for many of the team’s points so far. Due to an injury, she took the backseat this race but still placed sixth in the team, finishing ahead of a third of those competing in the race. When asked how she persevered with the injury, she cited the family she had at the race and the strength of God.
Dexheimer and Burmester were effective in running close together, and Dexheimer says she wishes she saw even more of that in the team during races.
“We have a group of girls that, we should really like pack up in races and run together,” Dexheimer said. “Sometimes that doesn’t necessarily happen because we’ll like lose each other when the gun goes off, and it’s hard to navigate to where everyone else is at, but … I think it’s really important for us to just pack up during the race.”
Along with Prenzler, Dexheimer also believes the teams have a home field advantage running on SIUE’s course, noting its hilliness.
“We practice here very often. We know, like, if there’s a pothole somewhere like avoid that spot. … We know where all the hills are, and we really like just know where we’re at on the course the entire time and I think that really does help in the end,” Dexheimer said.
Both teams placed in or near the middle of this 12-school meet. This is a better performance than the men’s 17th place and the women’s last place at the previous meet, but it does not reach both team’s second place finishes at smaller meets at the beginning of the season. Despite this, Prenzler enjoys the competition that a Saturday’s meet offered.
“We got nationally ranked Eastern Kentucky [University], incredible Eastern Illinois team, and Belmont, another great team … Just to compete with all those people … It’s great to put on some quality entertainment for people to watch,” Prenzler said.
SIUE Cross Country is racing again at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., Friday, Nov. 15, at the NCAA Regionals in Stillwater, Oklahoma.