SOUTHFIELD, Mich. - The Lawrence Technological University cross-country teams prepare for the WHAC championship meet hosted by Aquinas College at Riverside Park in Grand Rapids Michigan on November 9th. The ladies will race at 12 noon at a 5k distance and the guys race will run at 1:00 at the 8k distance. The Blue Devils just ran on this course two weeks ago in a different meet.
Coach Eric Green is excited for this meet, stating "the championship this weekend is all important on many fronts. It is how you place in this race that counts overall on the success of the season." This differs from a time basis, as you have to place to possible make it to the NAIA meet in Washington this year. He added "You might have beaten another team pretty badly during the season in other races but if they beat you at this meet they would be the more successful team. Same as for individual runners; if you get beat at the meet they were the better runner."
This race is the first time all the WHAC teams will all be in one place racing against each other. Green went on about the guys side,"We have 11 teams in the race and I am hoping we can at least place where we did last season which was 7th place. The best we have done in the past was 5th place on the guys side which was in 2015. That was the year we had two automatic qualifiers for the national meet."
For the women's side, the team has been facing many injuries, but now have a multitude of runners back in the nick of time, "the ladies had their best placing last year at 7th as well. We have been pretty banged up on the ladies side, not having a full squad compete as a team in any races, but we will have at least five ladies racing Saturday which would be the first as a complete team this season."
The possibility to have individuals or teams qualify for the National meet in Vancouver, Washington drives this meet's importance past that of just being a WHAC forerunner, but possibly a NAIA champion. Top teams in the conference and the top 15 individuals automatically qualify.
Green is excited and hopeful for this opportunity, saying "On the guys side, we have a great chance to have Nolan [qualify]. He is currently ranked 7th in the conference and if he can maintain that placing in the race, he will go to the national meet." This would make McGahan only the 3rd Blue Devil male runner in the history of the cross country team to compete at the race since Malik Jordan and Graham Elliott did it in 2015. Green continued, "it would be icing on the cake for Nolan who has the freshman and overall school record time in the 8k." On the ladies, depside the injuries, one runner has stood out, "Darbey will have one last shot at the freshman record and a long shot getting in the top 15, but if she does would be our first ever lady to qualify for the national meet. That is the beauty of this meet, it is who runs best on this day alone."
This will also be the last cross country meet for the cross country programs senior's, which include Jimmy Hoefler, John Bowen II, Brendan Koch, Uriel Figueroa, Emily Gandolfi and Kelsey Catania. Unless they place, this will be the last cross country meet and end of the college running careers.