Both cross country teams are having a good season this year. The best results have come from the men’s team, placing first as a team in both the Hokum Karem, hosted at Goshen, and in the Bethel Invitational. Meanwhile, the women’s team has also done well, placing second position at the Hokum Karem and the third at the IWU Invitational.Ryan Smith, a sophomore runner that holds a school record for the men’s 8k from his first year, talked about this season for the men’s team.
“The team is stronger than ever,” he said. “The men’s team has a legitimate shot at getting to nationals.”
The Maple Leafs have been ranked 17th in the National Polls and have consistently been in the top 25 for the past five weeks. The team was placed 21st in the poll this week.
Smith said that the team’s improvement shows in the times that the runners are placing.
“Last year we had one person under 26 minutes [in a 8k race] and this year we have three,” he said. “Our depth is also incredible with a lot of young talent in the mix.”
He is very happy with the new additions of this year.
“I, personally, try to look long term,” he said. “The team we can become is beyond what people think we can do, but with the rate we are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if we were a top 10 national team in two years. We just keep adding more and more potential.”
When asked about his personal season, the sophomore runner said, “I am getting stronger week by week, but I have more to improve.”
Smith has important goals to achieve in his college career as he wants to achieve an individual National title in cross country and track.
In the last meet at Aquinas College, the men’s team finished seventh out of 39 teams, and the women ended up 20th out of 35. Smith said that the Great Lakes Invitational didn’t go very well.
He said, “We should have been a few spots higher as a team, but we still took down Indiana Tech, who was ranked ahead of us, and Shawnee State who is also in the top 25 rankings.”
The Maple Leafs will be back in action on Saturday in the Crossroads League conference meet at Taylor.