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Men's & women's cross country season preview

Last fall, the men’s cross country team finished second to Mount Union in the OAC meet for the second year in a row. They key word here is ‘second.’

“We don’t mention that in here,” head coach Jason Maus said, sitting calmly behind his desk as practice neared last Wednesday afternoon.

In order to finally conquer the Purple Raiders this season, Maus’s men will depend on the senior leadership of Nathan Rosenbaum, who was the team’s top runner last season. Rosenbaum was the only Polar Bear to qualify for the NCAA National Championship meet, where he placed 152nd out of 275 runners.

The Polar Bears must also find a way to replace four varsity runners- Mark Berton, Tyler Feitshans, Jeff Denny and Matthew Johnson- who have all graduated. Maus believes that the performance of his seven returning varsity runners, including Rosenbaum, Eric Wymer (junior) and William Huddleston (junior), will be key in bringing a conference title back to Ada.

Beating Mount Union will be no easy task, however. The defending OAC champs return their top three runners and five of their top seven runners from last year’s team.

“Mount has been good,” Maus said. “We just need to focus on us, and what we can do.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams open up their seasons with the Bluffton Invitational on August 29, a meet which they both won last year.

Meanwhile, the women’s team is coming off of a fifth-place finish in the OAC meet last season. They return six varsity runners, including Catie Huber, who was a track national qualifier last spring in the 1,500 meter run.

The women’s team has just four seniors, but they don’t lack depth. Eleven runners finished in the team’s top seven last year (in different races), and Maus says that the team has talented freshmen that could add to the depth.

The Polar Bears won the OAC meet three straight years, from 2010 to 2012, before finishing fifth last year. The goal for Maus’s women’s team is simple:

“We need to return back to where we belong,” Maus said.

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