Season Preview: Cross Country teams eager to get started
It’s been nine months since the Wright State cross country team last took stride to prepare for the Horizon League Championships, yet the season will open with the Dayton Flyer 5k Challenge on Saturday Aug. 31.
The men’s team will be led by seniors Dan Shafer and Brandon Graves. Shafer is the team’s top returner and was 2nd team All Horizon League last season.
“He has been running consistent 100 mile weeks in preparation for his senior year,” assistant coach Rick Williamson said. “He is the third top returner from last year’s championship race.”
“I am personally hoping to compete for the individual title this year, and our team is hoping to improve upon last year,” Shafer said. “We have a young team overall so we will have a huge opportunity to grow and compete together to develop a strong team.”
Junior Matt Peters will also make a strong impression being the tenth-ranked returning runner in the Horizon League. The team also anticipates strong contributions from sophomores Tyler Kennedy, Kameron Powell and Kevin Swartz.
The women’s team has a young and poised squad for 2013. The only senior, Rachel Janson, looks to lead the team after her record setting track season last year. Sophomore Brittany Bailey also set school records last year alongside Janson, and joins her into leading the team.
“Vanessa Hopwood should also play a key role in the team’s success, as she ran right behind Brittany and Rachel all of last cross country season,” Williamson said. “A freshman that should push those three will be Jessica Doepker from Kalida [High School].”
Doepker is a 2-time All Ohio selection in cross country.
“Our general goal is to improve upon our team placing from last year and have all our returners improve on their individual places,” Williamson said.
Williamson believes the men’s team might have a more clear projection as to where they stand in the Horizon League compared to the women’s team.
“We feel that the men’s championship is wide open and there are five teams that have a legitimate shot at the title,” Williamson said. “We may not know how the women stack up until October rolls around.”