2017 Cross Country
Beavers kick off season at 'Back to Nature Preserve'
September 1, 2017
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University men’s and women’s cross country teams opened their 2017 season Friday evening as the hosts of the “Back to the Nature Preserve Invitational”. Starting as a small, under-race -distance event in 2011, this opening season meet has grown in to a competitive field of 10 to 11 teams, featuring top NCAA Division II, III and NAIA teams from the surrounding area and beyond.
The women toed the starting line first and the Bluffton harriers did not disappoint as they brought it home fourth in a field of ten being bested only by Ohio Northern, Findlay and Ohio Christian. Sophomore Alexis Cash (Gaines, MI/Lake Fenton) led the charge, coming home 12th in the field of 90 with junior teammate Jennie Matteson (Guysville/Alexander) following closely in 13th. Freshman Bailie Barrington (Waynesfield/Waynesfield-Goshen) quickly crossed the line in 19th place with fellow freshman Kimmie Hetrick (Fremont Ross) and senior Alissa Hauke (Hillsboro) rounding out the varsity five scorers.
The men’s team witnessed sophomore Dakota Frost (Edgerton/Hicksville) run a sizeable course PR to lead the men’s squad with a 17th place finish in his field of 117. Junior Jonah Eckert (Terre Haute, Ind./West Vigo) was the second Beaver to cross the line followed closely by sophomore Connor Gulick (St. Louisville, Ohio/Utica). Junior transfer Wyatt Baer (Marshallville, Ohio/Smithville) impressed with a big effort to fill the fourth scoring position for the men with junior Jacob Hill (Dayton/Wayne), back from a track season injury that interfered with summer training, taking the fifth and final varsity spot.
“It is gratifying to see the quantity and quality of our home meet grow in this our 7th year at Bluffton,” said Head Coach Karen Brandt. “Attracting a sizeable field with good competition to our home course was an early goal when my husband (distance coach Jim Brandt) and I took over in 2011. It allows us the opportunity to put our teams up against stout competition that gives us an indicator of what the rest of the season may hold. Team spirit is positive; the women showed the effects of their summer work; and the men’s team finished commendably despite the loss of senior Kris Lyons (Vickery/Margaretta) to a season-ending injury suffered late in summer training. We are looking forward to seeing the season unfold.”
The Beavers travel this coming Saturday, Sept. 9, to Liberty Park, Powell, Ohio where Ohio Wesleyan University will provide an opportunity for teams to race on the course that will be the site of the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship. The men take the course at 10:30 a.m. for their 8k race, followed by the women at 11:30 for their 6k event.