Cross Country Creates Dream Team Atmosphere

Donya Forst, Print Editor

After a summer of rebuilding, regrouping and reevaluating, the men’s and women’s cross country teams are looking forward to running away with a Mid-Atlantic Conference title at the end of the season.

For the first time in school history, the women’s cross country team was nationally ranked at spot number 10 in the Mideast region. This only makes the runners and head men’s and women’s cross country and track and field coach, Christopher Wadas, more determined to win a MAC title this year.

“Every year we just try to do a little bit better than last year. If you get satisfied being where you’re at, you’re never going to get to the next step, so you got to keep on working hard. You have to strive for the best you can be, not perfection, because it’s impossible to be perfect. But there’s always something you can do better,” said Wadas.

Ultimately, the team’s goal is to win a MAC championship, but players won’t let that distract them.

“Every year, we go into it with that being our goal, but I think this year, the whole conference is opened up, and we are right in the mix to compete for a conference title,” said Wadas.

Wadas expects accomplishment from some of his returning runners and surprises from first years. On the men’s side, Wadas has junior Mikael Hause listed as his top runner, followed by seniors Jeremy Osko and A.J. Limongelli.

“My guy’s team has a bunch of different mixtures. They did great last year, and I expect for them to really come along and do big things for us,” said Wadas.

On the women’s side, he expects junior Bianca Bolton to make a run at NCAA qualifying bid, while sophomore Bethany Killmon and junior Alex Miller are expected to be All-Conference.

“They’re in way better shape than they were last year. They don’t realize it yet, but once we start doing some stuff, they’re gonna see in the next couple of weeks that they are,” said Wadas. “Rachael Harding, who is a senior, is having a great year too. She is going to PR [personal record] by a huge amount.”

The dedication in preseason was not entirely focused on running. While Wadas was busy adjusting times and mileage, the women were becoming more of a team and creating an atmosphere Wadas dreamed about

“We have zero problems. We have no issues at all and that’s going to go a long way,” Wadas said. “The atmosphere that they provide is easy. It’s been easy to coach this year.”

Sophomore physical therapy major Molly O’Hara is grateful for the change in the team’s attitude. She said they worked hard in preseason, not only running, but getting to know each other.

“We did a lot of team bonding and just trying to get to know everyone. We have a big team and a lot of first years this season. We also focused on being a supportive of one another and have a positive outlook on the season and as a team,” she said. Wadas sais first years bring a new dimension and outlook to the team, and while it may take them a little bit of time to adjust, they help form one of the team’s greatest strengths: depth.

“Some of the first years have been consistent in scoring for the team, including Angela Stella and Lauren Hause,” said O’Hara.

Lauren Hause, sister of Mikel Hause, is a new addition to the team. Wadas expects her to make a major impact even though she had it a little tough at the beginning.

“If she’s anything like her brother, it’s going to take her a little bit to catch on to what we’re doing. Her brother took a little bit of time his freshman year. He was kind of getting used to things and then in his sophomore year, he really took off,” said Wadas.

The Cougars took off with a great start with wins for both the men’s and women’s sides in the Cougar Classic meet. Wadas expects exemplary results at upcoming meets at Lock Haven University and the Paul Short meet at Lehigh University.

He also expects a little friendly competition between Lebanon Valley College, Messiah College and Desales University on the women’s side and Widener University and Messiah on the men’s side.

Wadas said it’s the women’s game to win. “The girls side it is wide open. It’s going to be a four team race. It’s whoever decides they want to show up and get it.”

Wadas said Widener University is a team for the men to beat. “Messiah is looking good as well. We need to be able to get to that level. From our point of view, we are trying to compete with them, but we’re looking to get third. If we can get third, it would be a fantastic meet for us. Third is very, very, very doable, not that first or second isn’t, but you have to be big when it counts. We don’t give out prizes in September. It comes down to the very end.”

Wadas is looking forward to seeing what the end of the year will bring as he watches players get in shape. “The way that they interact with each other, the way that they cheer each other on, they take care of each other, you can tell they’re working as a unit.  That’s what I’m most proud of.

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