Five returning runners highlight the men’s and women’s cross country teams at Wayne State College for the 2016 season.
Coach Marlon Brink begins his 17th season as head cross country coach, and he has two men and three women back as the Wildcats prepare to open the fall campaign.
On the men’s side, the top two runners from last year graduated, so the men’s team will look to its younger runners to lead the way.
“Although we will be young, I think the guys have a lot of enthusiasm which will help with the transition to the college racing scene,” Brink said.
This year’s eight-member roster is led by returning seniors Corbin Lehn and Joey Black. Another runner that brings experience to the Wildcat roster is junior Antoine Bardou, a transfer from Indian Hills Community College who was a two-year national qualifier.
Other members on this year’s team that will be competing in collegiate cross country for the first time this season include redshirt freshman Isaias Solorio from Madison along with freshmen Kak Ayaj (Lincoln Northeast), Aaron Haahr (Laurel-Concord-Coleridge), Noah Noecker (Hartington Cedar Catholic) and Nathan Pearson (Alta-Aurelia, Iowa).
“Our lack of experience will make this a transitional year that will hopefully lay the groundwork for success in the future,” added Brink.
The Wayne State women’s team has eight runners on the squad and will feature a unique mix, bringing back the team’s top runner to go with three freshmen who will be competing in cross country for the first time following successful high school track careers as distance runners.
This year’s roster features three seniors, one sophomore and four freshmen. The team’s top returner is senior Andrea DeSimone, who was Wayne State’s top finisher in all six meets last season.
“Andrea is a great leader for the young girls on our team this season,” said Brink. “I believe we have a good nucleus of girls to work with and will try to improve on our NSIC conference finish. I think we can expect to see some big improvements from the beginning to the end of the season based on overall lack of collegiate racing experience the team has.”
Other seniors on the team are Mary Alderson (Fremont Bergan) and Melissa Kroll (Dunlap, Iowa), who both competed in cross country for the first time last season to help the Wildcats build depth.
Sophomore Sarah Post is the only other upperclassman on the Wildcat roster.
Jamie Larson of Bondurant-Farrar High School in Iowa is one of four freshmen on this year’s team and will be a top five scorer for the Wildcats according to Coach Brink. The other three freshmen that fill out the roster will be competing in cross country for the first time following stellar distance careers in high school track and field. They include Lexi Oswald of Allen, Josephine Peitz from Wakefield and Taylor Rystrom of Cross County High School.
The Wildcats begin the season on Friday, Sept. 2, running in the Augustana Twilight Invitational at Yankton Trail Park in Sioux Falls, S.D.