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OU cross country runner Ellen Isaac, who gained recognition at the All-Ohio cross country awards last year, will be competing in her final season this year as a redshirt senior. (LIZ MOUGHON | FILE)

Cross Country: Ohio preps for MAC Championships this weekend

One of the days Ohio cross country has been waiting for is right around the corner.

The men’s and women’s teams head to Kent State on Saturday morning to partake in the Mid-American Conference Championships. 

The Ohio men’s team will consist of senior leaders Michael McKean and Alex Wind. Joining them will be Adam Wise, Eric McKean, Kyle Bussard, Zach Zimmerman, Brad Miller and walk-on freshman Parker "Cray" Sistrunk.

Ohio will face challenges in topping conference powerhouse Eastern Michigan. Miami also poses a threat with an extreme depth of runners compared to schools like Ohio.

Assistant coach Mitch Bentley hopes Ohio will finish near the top of the race and believes his team can produce quality individual performances.

“We’re hoping for something second through fourth,” Bentley said. “Individual-wise it would be nice to have an All-MAC performance. They’re stronger this year, so they’ll have a better chance to get up there for some All-MAC spots.”

The Bobcats' training has consisted of peak and sharpening the knife speed drills along with stressing adequate rest and diet. The men will have a brief workout Friday to adapt their bodies for the race.

Bentley’s goal is for the team to be relaxed and versatile enough to roll with the punches the race brings.

Wind feels confident in the team's abilities going into the conference championship.

“We have the perfect team set-up. We’re strong up front and in the middle,” he said. “We’re working hard, being smart, everyone’s healthy, we won Pre-Nationals last week and we just have to keep that ball rolling moving into MAC’s.”

The women look to bounce back from their 22nd place finish at Pre-Nationals at the conference championship.

Some of the runners competing at the meet are Alyssa Atkinson, Abby Miller, Madison Sury, Delaney Geitgey, Emily Cass, Josie Woosley, Christina Seas, Melissa Koziol and Emily Deering.

Inexperience serves as an obstacle for Ohio as eight of the nine runners racing are underclassmen, with Seas being the only upperclassmen. As a younger team, the women will have an uphill battle facing seasoned competitors like Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Bowling Green and Toledo that have been consistently ranked in the region all season.

Coach Tim Sykes is hoping Atkinson will continue to be the front-runner second team All-MAC and top 16 overall. If Miller, Deering, Sury, Seas, Woosley and Cass finish within 15 seconds of one another, then they have a chance to be among the top 50 runners at the championship.

Deering and Geitlhy have peaked in October, giving the team momentum in the weeks heading into conference play. Geitgey ran a personal-record of 23:37 in the 6k race in Pre-Nationals two weeks ago.

The team has decreased training volume by 20-30 percent, focused on recovery routines and had fun themed practices in order to have the execution needed to solidify their skills against top-notch talent this weekend.

The women will begin their race at 11 a.m. followed by the men who run at 12 p.m.


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