Women’s cross country is league champion again

Levy, Stroede take individual league titles, Rice named Horizon League Co-Coach of the Year

Sam Schlenner, Sports Editor

After sweeping the Horizon League Cross Country Championship last year with both teams, Oakland put up another title for the women and a fifth-place finish for the men on Saturday, Oct. 29, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

“Kudos to the Horizon League for making more heavy trophies than they had last year,” Oakland head coach Paul Rice said in a GrizzVision interview. “These girls just ran their hearts out.”

Rachel Levy won the women’s 6K in 21:35.4, and Bryce Stroede won the men’s 8K in 25:01.3.

“I knew that I didn’t want to take it out in the beginning,” Levy said in a Horizon League interview after the race. “I feel like whatever I do, I always end up struggling at the end. It helped to have my teammates right along with me for most of the race, and then towards the end, the finish was great.”

Stroede had a similar strategy.

“At about 7K, I made my move with a K to go,” Stroede said in the Horizon League video. “Went up the hill and never really looked back at that point. Just trying to get the lowest stick I could for the team.”

In Oakland’s Division I history, Stroede is the second man to win an individual league title, and Levy is the third woman to do so. Levy and Stroede were both named Horizon League Athletes of the Year.

“Scoring 32 points last year and trying to better that is a big challenge,” Rice said. “We’ve been a little up and down this year with people. A few injuries and illnesses, and it’s great to see everybody on the same page on the same day. That’s the way you want to script it.”

Levy was followed by Miranda Haas (21:54.6, 2), Alana Koepf (22:07.4, 4), Ashley Burr (22:13.5, 6), Karli Keur (22:59.0, 15), Lydia Stanley (23:14.5, 22) and Kendra Colesa (23:38.7, 33), making four top-10 finishes for the women.

Following Stroede were Connor Wuori (25:55.5, 6), Michael Cox (26:51.0, 23), Matthew Ritter (27:39.6, 46), Jacob Greer (27:40.9, 47), Brad Mallory (28:09.3, 54) and Cameron Karagitz (28:33.0, 57), making two top-10 finishes for the men.

On the Horizon League First Team for the women were Levy, Hass, Koepf and Burr. Stroede and Wuori were on the men’s First Team.

Rice was given Horizon League Co-Coach of the Year.

Oakland graduates six seniors this year — five women and one man.

“It was great to have the [senior women] go out like this, with a championship and some great hardware today,” Rice said.

Four women in the top six was a salient number.

“It comes with a lot of hard work with this group collectively in practice every day,” Rice said. “They push each other constantly. The reality is it could be any of these four girls that won this race today. They mix it up well and support each other.”

Going into the league championship, the women’s team was ranked 11th in the Great Lakes Region in the most recent U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll. It’s the highest spot the team has gotten in program history.

Rice is proud of Stroede, as well.

“We had a race plan going in,” Rice said. “He stuck with it and did exactly what we talked about to win that title.”

The Bowman twins, Jacob and Andrew, redshirted for the men this year, which meant it was a rebuilding season.

Next year, the Horizon League Championship is at Oakland.