Cross country teams look to defend league titles

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Last cross country season was a special one for Oakland. The men won the Horizon League title by one point while the women dominated the field and won by 61. It was the first time in program history that both teams took home conference championships.The goal this year is to do it all over again.

Women’s

The women’s team is returning all of their All-Horizon League First Team runners. They’re lead by senior Miranda Haas, senior Karli Keur, redshirt junior Ashley Burr and sophomore Rachel Levy.

“We got all the girls back from last year, and they are looking really good and have a lot of depth,” said head coach Paul Rice. “The expectation is not just to go in and defend but to destroy everyone like we did last year.”

But unlike last year, the women know beforehand what it will take. They have the experience.

“Last year coming into the championship race, we all wanted it really badly, but we had never done it before, so it’s something that we needed to accomplish,” Haas said.

But now it’s been done. They know the feelings, the toil. And that’s an advantage, she said.

The women’s team added two new runners, freshmen Maggie Schneider and Allison Shannon. Both have redshirted this year.

“They are both going to be able to take their time developing; we are not expecting them to get into a role up top right away,” Rice said. “So, that will be something, that they’ll have a good experience learning from all the girls this year.”

 

Men’s

The men’s team had four runners make All-Horizon League, three of which were expected to return, but due to injuries and graduation, senior Bryce Stroede is the only one coming back from last season.

“Goal is to defend,” Rice said. “It will be a little easier said than done on the men’s side. We have some challenges this year with some redshirts that we had, a few injuries. So, we’re a little light on the men’s side.”

They can win, he said, but they’ll have to battle. And they’ll have to stay healthy.

Senior Andrew Bowman, who has been battling injuries for the past few months, has been redshirted this year. Senior Jacob Bowman was also redshirted this year as well. Both runners were All-Horizon League First Team last year.

“We want those guys back for their fifth year when we host the championships next year,” Rice said.

With the Bowman’s out for the season, senior Michael Cox will have to help out a little more. Sophomores Connor Wuori and Jacob Greer are expected to contribute, as well. However, all eyes will be on Stroede, who set an Oakland University record last season in the 8K at 24:16.0 and came in 36th in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional.

“Bryce is as fit as he has ever been, running over 100 miles a week right now,” Rice said. “We’re setting our goals and sights past the league champions, and to regional and national for him this year.”

The season starts with the Golden Grizzly Open on at 4 p.m. ET on Friday, Sep. 2. It’s at Oakland.