Toledo women win third-straight MAC cross country championship
The No. 18 UT women’s cross country team ran to its third-straight Mid-American Conference championship Saturday in Grand Island, N.Y.
In the face of inclement weather, the Rockets posted a record-low 24 points at Beaver Island State Park, topping their mark of 33 at last year’s championship meet.
Toledo is the first school to win three consecutive conference titles since Ohio grabbed five-straight from 1987-92.
“Weather can be the great equalizer,” said UT head coach Kevin Hadsell. “What ends up happening in cross country is, the worse the weather, the less things change in the second half of the race because the traction is so bad people can’t really pick it up at the end.
“We did what we always do which is get out really hard. With bad weather the importance of that is magnified and we were able to put almost our entire team on the All-MAC team.”
Eight of nine Toledo runners earned All-MAC honors while head coach Kevin Hadsell was named MAC Coach of the Year for the third-straight season and the fifth time overall.
“Just adding to the legend,” Hadsell said jokingly in regard to the achievements.
Senior Kaylin Belair and sophomores Megan Wright and Liz Weiler fronted the Toledo effort, finishing second through fourth. Belair ran for a time of 21:08.7, 20 seconds behind Ohio’s Julie Accurso. Wright and Weiler recorded times of 21:20.5 and 21:24.9, respectively.
Sophomores Brooke Tullis (21:55.8) and Priscilla Timmons (21:56.5) finished seventh and eighth while Devyn Ramsay (22:01.4), Sharon Morgan (22:03.4) and Liz Lemon (22:09.6) rounded out the top 14.
Belair, Wright, Weiler and Tullis earned first time accolades with Timmons, Ramsay, Morgan and Lemon receiving second team marks.
In their first varsity race, Morgan and Lemon became the 10th and 11th Rockets on the 26-woman roster to garner All-MAC honors. Hadsell believes he has several other runners with all-conference talent.
“There are at least five more women on the roster who could have been All-MAC,” he said.
Among those is two-time conference runner of the week Mackenzie Chojnasky, who fought through illness to finish 57th with a 23.00.8 posting at the conference championship meet. Chojnasky found out after the race that her iron levels have been low the past several weeks.
The Rockets will send seven runners to the NCAA Great Lakes Regional in Madison, Wis. on Nov. 9. The top six runners from the MAC championship will compete at the regional. Chojnasky will fill the seventh spot if she is healthy while Morgan and sophomore Megan Gaysunas serve as possible replacement candidates.
UT is looking to secure its third-straight NCAA Championship bid.
“You can make small improvements between now, the regionals and nationals but not significant improvements,” Hadsell said. “Right now it’s more about continuing to stay healthy and continuing to do the right things from a physical and emotional standpoint.”
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