Western Courier

Necks get early start at Early Bird

Lucas+Lingle+on+a+campus+run+at+practice.
Lucas Lingle on a campus run at practice.

Lucas Lingle on a campus run at practice.

Becca Langys/ Photo Editor

Becca Langys/ Photo Editor

Lucas Lingle on a campus run at practice.

Brie Coder, Copy Editor

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MACOMB, Ill.— It’s that time of year again. The Western Illinois men and women’s cross country teams will be running with all their might towards the Summit League Championships in late October, and the NCAA Tournament in late November. First the Leathernecks will begin the anticipated season this Friday at the WIU Early Bird. The event begins at 5 p.m. with the women’s race (4000 meters), followed by the men’s race (6000 meters) at 5:45 p.m. The award ceremony will conclude the event at 6:15 p.m.

Last season, the Purple and Gold had some astonishing performances. Among the runners who made big news, two of them have already been spotlighted by the Summit League as “Athletes to Watch.” The first runner to hold a career-best is junior Abigail Richter. Richter set personal- bests in the 3-mile (15:52), 4K (14:50) and 6K (22:32.54). At last year’s Summit League Championships, she placed 24th, as well as clocked in her career-best time during that event.

The second runner to watch for is senior Lucas Lingle. Last year Lingle also placed 24th in the Summit League Championships. He marked a career-best in the 10K at the NCAA Division I Midwest Region Cross Country Championships with an impressive time of 32:42.3 last November.

Not only did Richter and Lingle achieve career-bests at last year’s Summit League Championship, but junior Ross Smetzer, junior Nicole Beebe and sophomores Jacey Roper and Hailey Tranchitella, also impressed themselves, their coach and their teammates with personal-bests. Smetzer came in at a time of 27:15.07, whereas Beebe, Roper and Tranchitella were neck and neck in the 6K with 23:17.68, 24:17.94 and 24:36.32.

As of now in the 2018 Summit League Men’s Cross Country Preseason Poll, South Dakota State is Western’s toughest competitor in the men’s division.

The South Dakota State Jackrabbits are currently ranked first with 36 points, and Western Illinois is ranked sixth with 12 points.

The men from South Dakota State who Western should outperform are junior Chase Cayo and senior Kyle Burdick. Cayo won the 2017 Summit League Championship with the ninth fastest time posted by a league champion. He also clocked in with the best 8K time and the second-best 10K time in the league last season. Burdick on the other hand earned All-Summit First Team honors, by finishing second at last year’s Summit League. Additionally he was one of the top-two to cross the finish line at each meet last season.

For the Purple and Gold women’s division, they are currently ranked in the preseason poll at seventh with 15 points. Their competition this season will be against The University of South Dakota Coyotes, who are ranked first with 48 points.

Senior Megan Billington and junior Kianna Stewart are the leaders of their Coyote pack. Billington received a fourth-place finish last year at the Summit League Championship, as well as garner All-Summit First Team Honors. She also led her team with five out of the six meets from last season. Stewart earned an All-Summit First Team accolades when she placed seventh last year at the the Summit League.

In addition, Stewart placed in the top seven at all six meets, which has made her a force to be reckoned with.

This season will be a tough one for the Leathernecks, but with a lot of determination and focus we could see Western rising from their starting ranks of sixth and seventh.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Necks get early start at Early Bird