The Ohio State men’s and women’s cross country teams both finished in the top half of the field at the Notre Dame Invitational on Friday.
Running in South Bend, Ind., the men placed 12th out of 26 teams in the 8K race and the women took 13th place in a 28-team field 5K race on Sept. 30.
While both team’s coaches said they are happy with their teams’ performances, they believe the results could have been better.
The men, led by junior Donny Roys, who finished 24th with a time of 24:44, saw their top runner, senior Jake Edwards, not finish. Edwards had a hamstring spasm and dropped around the four-mile mark of a five-mile race.
“We were really high up there through three miles. And then Jake dropped out. That’s a 70, 75-point swing,” men’s coach Robert Gary said. “You know, I’m a little disappointed, but it shows that we’re a pretty solid team.”
The men finished with a total score of 326, ahead of Penn State who had 343 points in 14th place. When Edwards dropped out, he was in the top 30 of 175 runners. OSU’s fifth runner, senior Adam Green, ran a 25:28 and finished 96th.
Senior Jordan Jennewine finished first for the women in 37th with a 17:42. The women had a total score of 366, behind Big Ten foe Penn State who finished in fourth place.
Women’s assistant coach Chris Neal said he thought the team ran well at the beginning of the race but didn’t have a strong second mile.
“The big thing for us was getting out fast and I think through the mile, we had six girls in the top forty. After that we kind of fell apart,” Neal said. “We just have to clean up the middle of our effort and we’ll be where we want to be.”
Both teams were running against highly ranked competition. The No.25-ranked men’s team ran against seven top-30 opponents, including No. 3 Stanford and No. 10
Florida State. The women competed against six top-30 teams.
The Big Ten championship meet on Oct. 30 is now less than a month away. Jennewine, the women’s number one runner, said her team needs to run well as a pack.
“I’d say as a team our strength has been that we can all bunch together and finish close with a short spread,” Jennewine said. “I think we need to just move the pack up.”
A top-three finish is in sight for both teams at the Big Ten championship meet.
“I think Wisconsin and Indiana are probably a step ahead of the rest of the conference,” Gary said. “I think there are probably three or four schools, Minnesota, Penn State, who we beat today, and probably Illinois. I think those three teams plus ourselves are fighting for third place.”
Neal said Michigan is the team to beat in the women’s conference, but believes a top-three finish is in reach for the Buckeyes.
“I think with Penn State, us, Minnesota and Iowa, it’s just going to be one of those years where on a good day you can be third but on a bad day you’re sitting in eighth,” Neal said.
Both teams are confident heading into the thick of the season.
“I think we’re right on track to get into the top three at the Big Ten championships,” Roys said of the men. “We’re stronger than last year so we’re getting out. I think we’re right on pace right now.”
Jennewine likes how her team is improving as the season goes on.
“I think we’re definitely moving forward and getting better each week,” she said.
The men and women will take a week off from competition and then travel to Wisconsin for the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational on Oct. 14.