A Quick Huddle: Cross Country Edition

Olivia Henderson, Sports Editor

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Tulane cross country kicked off its season last Friday at the University of New Orleans Cross Country Opener. In this initial competition, the Green Wave established itself as a force of nature, with both the men’s and women’s teams scoring 42 points and securing second and first place, respectively. 

Redshirt senior MacKenzie Melius was the first Green Wave woman to finish the 4k event, claiming second place with the blistering time of 14:51.76. Meanwhile, sophomore Evans Kipchumba led the men’s team to victory, scoring a first place finish in the 5k event to beat out 61 other runners with a time of 15:13.10.

With this promising start, Tulane cross country seems to be on the path to a stronger finish at the American Athletic Conference Championship, where the men’s team placed sixth of 10 teams and the women’s team earned a disappointing 11th of 12 finish in 2018. So, who stands in the way of Tulane securing an underdog win this year? 

Both the men’s and women’s teams for the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane and Temple University Owls clinched top-three finishes in the championship last year, with team scores of 32 and 51, respectively, for their men’s teams and 65 and 67, respectively, for their women’s teams. 

This past weekend, Tulsa competed in a tough four-team preview against the University of Arkansas, the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University. Though Tulsa’s men’s team finished in third place, its women’s team fared slightly better, coming in second. 

The Green Wave should not underestimate the Golden Hurricane, as last year’s men’s team made it all the way to the NCAA championship

As for Temple, both their men’s and women’s teams fell short in the Lehigh Invitational on Saturday, with the men’s team finishing sixth out of eight teams and the women’s team finishing fourth out of seven teams

Courtesy of Tulane Athletics
Mckenzie Melius, pictured here in the midst of track season, led the women’s cross country team to a first place finish.

Last year’s Owls, however, secured a place at both the men’s and women’s Mid-Atlantic Regional NCAA Championships, demonstrating the immense speed of this program and marking them as a tough opponent for Tulane this upcoming year.

While beating Temple and Tulsa may be a lofty goal for the Green Wave, Tulane cross country definitely has the skill to beat the University of Cincinnati and the University of Memphis.

Though Cincinnati’s women’s team crushed Tulane in the AAC Championships by 78 points, in the men’s race, the Bearcats only beat the Green Wave by 22 points

The Cincinnati men’s team’s second place finish at Saturday’s Queen City Invitational could be a cause for concern. The Bearcats’ fastest male runner, however, was nearly 15 seconds slower than Kimchumba in the 5k event, making Cincinnati an easy opponent for the Green Wave in future races. 

Unlike Cincinnati, Memphis presents the Green Wave women’s team with an opportunity for a victory. Tulane’s men’s team beat the Tigers by 18 points in last year’s AAC Championships, but the Memphis women’s team edged out the Green Wave women’s team by only two points

At the Twilight Cross Country Classic last weekend, the Tigers’ women’s team finished fifth of 14 teams, with their top female runner, Callie Friske, posting an average kilometer time that was two seconds faster than Melius. Though it may not be easy for Tulane to take down the Bearcats, it is certainly doable.

Overall, this is shaping up to be an interesting season for cross country in the AAC, with plenty of exciting teams to watch and quite a few ways for the Green Wave to make its mark.

Tulane’s men’s and women’s cross country teams will next compete at the Nicholls Cross Country Invitational in Thibodaux, Louisiana.