Lansing, MI – Both Men’s and Women’s cross-country teams made history yesterday as both teams captured the Region XII team title, while sophomores Evan Franklin, and Anais Da Silva both captured the individual titles.
On a cool, windy day at Grand Woods Park, both men’s and women’s cross-country teams took to the course to compete in the Region XII Championships hosted by Lansing Community College. At noon eastern time, the men’s team toed the line, and with the blast of a gun, they were off!
The race was tactical from the start. The whole field was bunched up as the runners came through the mile marker in 5 minutes and 12 seconds. Nearly the entire Vincennes University team was in the lead pack, with Evan Franklin in the lead overall.
Franklin further slowed the pace, as the runners came through the two-mile marker in 10 minutes and thirty-eight seconds. From there, Lansing Community College sophomore Blake Watson grabbed the reigns from Franklin, and began to inject some life into the race.
As the race strung out, the Trailblazers remained in the lead and chase packs. At the four-mile marker, Freshman Marcus Graham threw-down a huge surge, breaking from the pack. However, coming down the final hill, Blake Watson of LCC, and Graham’s partner in crime, Evan Franklin, would move into the lead with 400 meters to go.
Franklin and Watson came storming down the home-stretch! Franklin, just has he has done his entire career, unleashed his lethal kick. Franklin rolled past Watson to the finish, and captured the NJCAA Region XII Individual Title for the 2nd year in a row! Franklin crossed the line in a winning of time of 25:40; which is made more impressive considering that he covered the last 3 miles of the race in 15 minutes and 2 seconds. The victory also makes Franklin the first Vincennes University athlete in over 40 years to win back-to-back Individual Region XII Championships.
Then came the calvary! Freshman Marcus Graham crossed the line in 3rd place with a time of 25:51; making him the 4th fastest Trailblazer in Vincennes University history, and only the 5th runner ever to break 26 minutes at VU.
Sophomore Hunter Ingle notched nearly a 20-second personal best to take 8th in 26:24. Freshmen Seth Vaquero and Atlantis Green also joined Franklin, Graham, and Ingle in earning All-Region Honors by finishing 11th & 13th in 26:34 & 26:43 respectively.
Other Trailblazers earning huge personal bests on the day included: freshman Michael Demeyer in 27:02 (19th), freshman Jacob Adams in 27:06 (20th), freshman Caleb Phillips in 27:56 (32nd) and freshman Curtis Wetzel in 28:08 (36th).
Head Coach Blake Albrecht said after the meet, “I was thrilled about how we ran today! We didn’t overthink it. We didn’t press too hard. We just came out, raced, rolled with the punches, and had fun. We had been missing that with some of our guys the last couple weeks, but it all came together today. We beat some great, great teams in Lansing, Maccomb, Grand Rapids, and Muskegon. All had been ranked teams earlier in the year, so this was a GREAT test for us going into nationals. We have a lot of momentum going in, and I think we are really a dangerous team right now. Couldn’t be more happy for the guys today. They deserved it.”
If fans thought the men’s race was exciting, they got all that and more when it came time for the women’s race.
At 1 p.m. sharp, the gun was fired, and the women of Region XII stampeded down the straight towards the woods. From the gun, sophomore Anais Da Silva went right to the front. By the mile marker, Da Silva already had a 10 second gap on 2nd place, and fellow Trailblazer Maisie Lay was tucked-in in 3rd.
Da Silva would stretch her lead to nearly 30 seconds by the end of the race as she would cruise to the Region XII Individual Title in a winning time of 18:23. Da Silva becomes the first Vincennes athlete since TaPring Goatee in 2013 to win the individual title, and her winning time of 18:23 is a new school record! The cross-country record is the 10th overall school record that Da Silva has captured during her 2 years at VU.
Sophomores Maisie Lay and Sydney Davidson also joined Da Silva in earning All-Region Honors as Lay finished 3rd overall in 19:02, and Davidson finished 8th overall in 20:05.
Sophomore Wendy Catalan narrowly missed the top-15 by finishing 18th in 20:21. Freshman Liz Bredeweg rebounded from an injury to finish 21st in 20:37, and sophomore Nacketa Scanlon fashioned a nice race to finish 26th in 20:46.
As awards approached, the Region XII Team Title was still up-in-the-air. As the scores were tallied, both #5 ranked Lansing Community College, and #7 ranked Vincennes tied at 49. The NCAA rule, which is the rule system followed and enforced by the NJCAA, states that tie-breakers will be done in a head-to-head fashion. Vincennes University won the head-to-head match-up 3-to-2, and in so doing, captured the team’s first Region XII Team Cross Country Title in over 40 years!
“Our women showed some great fight today. When you look at the times, they don’t jump off the page at you, but we did the dirty work in the trenches today. When we had to move, when we had to pass girls, when we had to make a surge to move to the next pack, we did it. This is a huge accomplishment for our women’s team, and should really give them a lot of confidence going into the National Meet in Fort Dodge.” Said Albrecht.
Coach Albrecht was also named the men’s and women’s NJCAA Region XII Cross Country Coach of the year for the team’s performance this season, and the team’s performances at the meet.
Both team’s will return to action November 11th at the NJCAA Cross Country National Championships hosted by Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa!