Toledo, OH - The Toledo men's and women's cross country teams ran strong races Saturday, Nov. 12, at the NCAA Great Lakes Region championship meet, placing third and 15th in their respective races. Running in front of nearly 4,000 spectators at nearby Ottawa Park, the Rockets put together two tremendous performances, one that the women's team hopes will propel them to the NCAA championship meet.
The men's team's 15th-place finish was a program-best, as it previously never scored higher than 18th-place. The team was paced by freshman Hillary Serem, who finished in 56th place with a time of 31:39.2. It was his first team finishing as the team's number-one runner since the Rocket Opener on Sept. 2, also at Ottawa Park. Junior Nick Thomas was next to cross the line for UT, placing 74th with a time of 31:59.0, while senior Jonathan DeWitt followed, finishing 89th in 32:14.8. Redshirt-freshman Jake Kasperski (104th place; 32:28.0) and freshman Daniel Thompson (115th place; 32:42.3) completed Toledo's scoring lineup.
The men's regional roster was completed by sophomore Trevin Flickinger, who placed 161st in 33:49.4, and senior Elliot Livensparger, who crossed the line in 178th place with a time of 34:28.1.
"We wanted to avenge a couple losses we had at the MAC meet and shoot for our best regional finish ever," said head coach Kevin Hadsell. "Our top-15 finish earns a spot in the regional rankings and I think that's where we've belonged all year.
"We ran a really tough and smart race, and took advantage of knowing the course."
The top-two team finishers in the men's race, and recipients of automatic bids to the NCAA meet, were Wisconsin (50 points), the nation's top-ranked team, and Indiana (70 points).
Sophomore Callum Hawkins of Butler paced the field, finishing first by more than seven seconds with a time of 30:01.5.
On the women's side, the Rockets entered the race with the goal of placing in the top-three and earning a bid to NCAAs. They accomplished one piece of the puzzle, placing third in the meet with four all-regional performers, but must now wait to see if they earn an at-large bid to the national championship meet on Monday, Nov. 21.
Senior Emma Kertesz, a Toledo-native, returned to the course she competed on throughout her high school career to lead UT in the regional championship, finishing seventh-place in 20:42.6. The second-through-fourth Rocket finishers came across the line one after another, as junior Kaylin Belair (16th place; 21:02.6), senior Ari Fisher (17th place; 21:04.5) and sophomore Megan Vogelsong (18th place; 21:05.6) joined Kertesz on the All-Great Lakes Region Team. The squad's fifth runner, junior Kristal Studer, just missed all-region honors, placing 26th with a time of 21:18.2.
Freshman Priscilla Timmons was the team's sixth and final runner, placing 60th with a time of 21:56.6.
"It was really an amazing effort by our women today," said head coach Kevin Hadsell. "We went out hard like we always do and battled the whole time. We had four all-region runners and our fifth runner was 26th. We showed today that we are one of the top teams in the country."
Michigan (45 points) and Michigan State (77 points) placed first and second, respectively, in the women's team standings and automatically qualified for the NCAA meet.
The Wolverines' Danielle Tauro, a senior, won the race with a time of 20:27.9.
The NCAA championship meet will be run on Monday, Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, IN.
Contact: Brad Pettiford