On Friday, Sept. 2, the Spring Hill College men’s and women’s cross-country teams debuted the 2017 season at the Mississippi College Opener in Clinton, Miss. The men’s team scored 161 points earning 6th place overall out of 12 teams in their 5-kilometer event, while the women’s team scored 138 points earning 5th place overall out of 13 teams in their 4-kilometer event.
The men’s and women’s cross-country teams are coached by Craig McVey who is entering his fifth year as the Badgers’ head coach since he left the University at Albany (Albany, NY) in 2012. McVey was pleased with his teams’ effort Friday evening but added that there is still room for improvement. “I think everybody was a little disappointed. We didn’t have the preseason that we had a year ago. There were a lot of things scheduled that were out of our control, therefore we didn’t get the opportunity to have everybody together for some harder practices this preseason like we did last year,” said McVey. “As far as key scorers go, both squads are almost equally young but the cool thing is that we’re not racing like we’re young, we’re racing like a team that’s older than we are and that’s a good thing.”
Sophomore David Toups is eager for his predominantly young men’s team this season. “I think it’s really great for us. It’s a testament to what we’ll be in the future based on how well we’re doing as such a young team,” he said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to have freshmen and sophomores step up and score points for us so early in their careers.”
Fellow sophomore teammate Spencer Albright finds the role he plays on the team as unique. “It’s a little weird sometimes not having older teammates to look up to,” he said. “For David and I to be considered leading this team as sophomores is almost awkward because there’s nobody else to help, which I’ve usually had in the past from upperclassmen.”
Regardless of age, the young runners’ performances speaks for themselves. Toupes ran the 10th-best all-time SHC 5K time running a 17:07.92, while Albright clocked in running a 17:57.26 for 25th place out of 92 runners. Albright said that he’s been a leader before on previous teams and he’s more than ready to take that role alongside Toupes this season.
Senior Badger Nicole Kotval [16:54.07 – 24th place] is optimistic with high hopes based on the chemistry of the women’s team. “We always want to work together as a team and we have a really good group of girls this year,” said Kotval.
The Lady Badgers have also received a great addition to their team with Abigail Cain, a transfer sophomore from South Alabama. “She has been great for the team, not only in running [16:35.43 – 21st place] but as a teammate as well with her positive attitude,” said Kotval.
As for Cain, her positive attitude carries on after their season debut. “I think we all raced pretty well for our first race this season. Our times were probably a little bit slower than they should’ve been, but (I) thought we raced well, just not to the specific times we wanted,” said Cain.
The men’s and women’s cross-country teams’ next big event is Saturday, Sept. 30 at 8:30 a.m. in the 12th Annual Foothills Invitational at Oxford Lakes (Oxford, Ala.).