The Green Wave men’s and women’s cross-country teams have finished successful regular seasons and are now heading into the postseason. On Oct. 29, the teams will go to West Chester, Ohio to compete in the American Athletic Conference Championships. With the help of their top runners, they hope to finish strong.
With very young rosters, both men’s and women’s cross-country are focusing on improving and gaining experience in preparation for the postseason.
“We’re [taking] nine girls to the conference championship this weekend, and five of them will be running in the conference championship for the first time,” women’s head coach Michael Nussa said. “They’re young, but they’re improving steadily.”
With the large presence of younger athletes, the teams are looking to their seasoned front runners, including sophomore Emmanuel Rotich and juniors Lauren Bartels and Emma Newton, to bring their best this weekend at the AAC championships.
“Our front two runners are better than we’ve ever had at the front of our team,” Nussa said. “Emma and Lauren have made really good improvements this year… I think [they] are ready to break through a lot at the conference level.”
On the men’s side, coach Eric Peterson has high hopes for lead runner Emmanuel Rotich, who has finished first or second in every race this season.
“To have somebody up front running that well–and that consistently well–is one of the most important pieces a cross-country team can have,” Peterson said. “His leadership has been so significant, to not only having a high level of excellence on display every single day in practice but then he carries that over into every single race.”
Rotich has received AAC runner of the week honors four times this season, which Peterson believes to be a good indicator of his hard work and improvement.
“I think he’s one of the most improved distance runners in the country,” Peterson said. “It appears that he’s going to have a good shot to qualify for the national meet.”
The men’s and women’s cross-country teams’ regular seasons have prepared them well for the AAC championships, where they will be competing against ten other schools, including the tournament host, the University of Cincinnati.
“At this point, a lot of the work is done,” Peterson said. “What we’re really trying to do is make sure that everybody’s healthy and fresh and kind of rested going into the meet so that they can hopefully perform at a high level… I know everybody’s looking forward to getting into the postseason.”