Growing Cross-Country Teams Aim to Improve

by Abby Ferguson

With new faces and fresh legs, the Transylvania cross-country teams have one main goal: to reach the NCAA Great Lakes Conference in Holland, Mich.

With the women heading to this meet it will be the first time they’ve made it as a team.

The women have sent “runners to the regional meet, but never a full team that I am aware of,” said head coach Jason Moncer.

Junior Daniel Chartier leads the men's cross-country team with experience this fall.

The men will try to build on their individual success to reach their main goal, to “score at conference as a team and compete as a team in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional meet,” said Moncer.

For the women, they will be building off of their success during the 2009 season. They believe that they will be among the top teams in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.

“The women’s team has confidence from their performances last year, so our expectations are to be inside the top five teams at conference. Although, if they keep working hard and believe in each other, they can really be a threat by the end of the season,” said Moncer.

The women are 15 runners strong this year, which is large compared to previous years. Although eight of these runners are new to the sport, they have already showed promise.

“First-year student-athlete Alyssa Sandusky is already up with the lead group, and has a lot of upside since she is still relatively new to running. Sophomore Eryn Hornberger showed tremendous effort during our preseason and should also be running towards the front of the pack by the end of the year,” said Moncer.

Although these athletes are new to the sport they have several well-versed veterans to help them along the way. Juniors Betsey Heines, Tori Elrod and April Myers are leading the team along with sophomores Barbara MacNeill and Ria Keegan.

“Betsy, Barbara and April tend to lead the team with their hard work and good performances at our competitions,” Moncer said. “Ria Keegan is competing in only her second season, but looks to have a great year due to her strong work ethic. Junior Tori Elrod has worked hard over the summer and is looking to drop her times significantly this year.”

“I think the season is going great! It’s a great group of people. We work hard and love being out there,” said Keegan. “I was so happy with our success opening weekend (at the R.J. Corman A.J. Special cross-country meet, hosted by Asbury University in Wilmore, Ky.). It was a great way to start out the season. We have a lot more members this year than we did last year which has been very beneficial.”

Individually the athletes are strong but that is not what Moncer is focused on. Moncer wants his team to “work hard and believe in each other.”

“As a coach I don’t measure individual success simply by the outcome of races by place; it’s always been about improvement. As long as we are working towards our goals I am content,” said Moncer.

On the men’s side of things, the beginning of the season was rocky with only three runners on the roster. In cross-country five runners are needed to have a complete squad. The men have now grown to nine runners and are aiming to have a strong showing as a team. In previous years the men have been strong on the individual level.

“To actually have a team score at conference and continue to build a quality and competitive program that we have never had at Transylvania. … That is our primary goal this season. … Our men’s program has had good individuals in the past, though we have never had the depth to field a competitive team,” said Moncer.
Daniel Chartier is the lone returning upperclassman on the squad and “brings experience and leadership to the relatively young group,” said Moncer.

“We are also going to be focusing heavily on conference because we are hosting the championships this year at Falling Springs (Park and Recreation Center) in Wilmore, Ky.,” said Chartier.

The squad is thus looking to their young talent to propel the team.

Sophomore Ryan Stockdill had a strong track and field showing in the 2009 season. He will be able to run with the top runners in the conference by the end of the season,” said Moncer.

First-years Dylan Stearsman and Ben Hoseus have already showed promise to Moncer, who said that Stearsman “is a real hard worker who is capable of running with anyone on the team.”

Hoseus has not had much experience in the sport but “will work hard and push the other members of the team every day,” said Moncer.

This year is going to be one of character-building and learning for the men’s squad. The young faces will need to be sponges so the team can compete at a top level this season.

“(The men must) work hard and learn what it takes to get to the next level. Our women’s program is about a year ahead in this aspect, but our men have a lot of character and will find out a lot about themselves this season,” said Moncer.


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