MADISON, WISC. - Fifteenth-ranked Toledo's top-seven runners ran to a 13th-place finish in the prestigious Wisconsin Adidas Invitational Friday morning. Five Rockets set personal-record 6K times, led by Kaylin Belair who finished 40th overall at 20:22.00. Toledo tallied 469 points in the 48-team race.
The Rockets were one of 20 teams ranked in the USTFCCA national coaches' poll and improved dramatically in this year's race at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course. They finished 35th among 44 teams last year, but all five scorers finished within 32 seconds of each other. They also became the first school in Mid-American Conference history to have five women run under 21:00.00 in the same race.
"Today really helped us in securing another NCAA bid," Head Coach Kevin Hadsell said. "So there is a bit of a relief, and we can focus on challenging for the region title with Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame."
The Rockets were narrowly defeated by region rival No. 16 Notre Dame, by a mere one point. However, they took down seven other Top-30 teams in the meet including No. 9 Vanderbilt.
Megan Wright (90th place) and Priscilla Timmons (94th place) crossed the line after Belair with personal-best times of 20:46.00 and 20:48.00, respectively. Reigning Mid-American Conference Runner of the Week Mackenzie Chojnacky overcame an illness to finish fourth for the Rockets with a 20:55.00 mark. Liz Weiler closed out the scoring with her personal-record time of 20:57.00.
Megan Gaysunas was the fifth Toledo runner to set a personal-record at 21:13.00. Devyn Ramsay finished the race at 21:51.00.
Cal Poly's Laura Hollander sprinted out to a lead at the start and never looked back. The true freshman dominated the field with a winning time of 19:33.00.
Hollander crushed both the meet record of 19:59.40, set by Villanova's Sheila Reid in 2011, and the previous Zimmer Course record of 19:53.80, which was set in 2010 by Emily McLeod of Michigan State.
No. 5-ranked Iowa State took home the championship trophy with a winning team score of 109 points.
The stage is now set for the Rockets to defend their MAC championship crown. The two-time reigning champs will begin preparing for this year's race at Buffalo on Oct. 27.
The Rockets have not lost a varsity race, in any meet, to a MAC school since 2009.
Louisville, KY – The remaining members of the Toledo women's cross country team ran in the Pre-NCAA National meet Saturday morning at Louisville along with the full men's squad. Both teams ran in the "Black" race as the women finished seventh with 225 points and the men recorded 299 points for 11th place.
"That group we ran is a good team that can challenge to win a MAC title and finish in the Top 15 in the region," Hadsell said. "It is that kind of depth that keeps this program rolling."
Brooke Tullis led the women in the 6K race with a personal-record mark of 21:57.30 (26th place). The scoring continued with Liz Lemon in 50th place (22:17.60; PR), Sharon Morgan in 56th (22:24.80), Stephanie Ingraham in 65th (22:30.40) and Jackie Koza in 92nd place (22.48.40; PR).
The men ran without one of their top runners, Elliot Livensparger, and still came away with an 11th-place finish. They beat out conference rival Kent State as sophomore Hilary Serem made his season debut to lead the way at 24:49.40 (17th-place).
"We are really improving nicely and I feel like we are going to be very surprising come the MAC meet," said Hadsell.