Cross Country gets a freshman sized boost
Both the Red Men and Lady Red Cross Country programs received quite the boost this season from their 9 and 11 freshmen runners, respectively, and arguably the most competitive conference at the Division III level. These young student-athletes know they can make the impact now and provide a strong base to build upon for the future.
With many top runners unavailable due to injury, Head Coach Josh Henry turned to his Freshmen for production. Henry was surprised how quickly his Freshmen grew accustomed to life as college student athletes and meshed with veteran runners in the locker room.
“Honestly, I did not expect some of them to adjust as quickly as they did from the 5K in high school to the collegiate level 8K,” Henry said.
Former high school standout Eric Schmitt, ’20, had one of the easier transitions, thanks to the summer training program implemented by Henry.
“I really think the program helped me get into shape and transition to college cross country smoothly,” Schmitt, said.
Paul White Jr., ’17, has taken notice and is impressed with his younger teammates. With top runners out, White Jr. acknowledged the freshmen’s strong work ethic and determination to better the team.
“I have high hopes for the freshmen,” White Jr., said. “They could be one of the top teams when they become seniors.”
The women’s team is no different. Molly McQueeny, ’20, started her collegiate career by earning “Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the Meet” on Sept. 13 after only two races. She is the first Freshman to earn the award since North Central’s Erin Fitzgerald on Oct. 23, 2012.
For McQueeny, the transition to collegiate running has been easier than expected due to the help from her teammates.
“All the upperclassmen are so welcoming and encouraging, so I feel comfortable in and out of practice,” McQueeny, said.
Head Coach Stephanie Domin, admires McQueeny’s humbleness and ability to put the team first.
“I believe she can lead the team on and off the course for the next four years,” Domin said.
The Freshmen’s growth and impressiveness radiates through the whole class. In the first two meets, the top two performers were freshmen, and in the following meet, 6 of the top 10 runners were Freshmen.
“We are incredibly lucky to have such a dedicated group of runners that can be built upon for the future,” Domin, said.