Vincennes, IN – Both men’s and women’s nationally ranked cross-country teams are gearing up to compete in the Region XII Cross Country Championships hosted by Lansing Community College this weekend for a chance to advance to the NJCAA Cross Country National Championships in Fort Dodge, Iowa on November 11th.
“Both teams have had a great season up to this point.” Said cross country coach Blake Albrecht. “We have worked very hard, we have showed a lot of toughness, we have raced in some really tough conditions up to this point, and I think this will be a great weekend for us to go out and run really well against some very tough, nationally ranked competition.”
The Trailblazers enter the meet as the #7 ranked team in the NJCAA on the women’s side, and #8 on the men’s side. Rival Lansing Community College enters the meet ranked #5 in the NJCAA on the women’s side, and #6 on the men’s side. Grand Rapids Community College, and Maccomb Community College also will enter the meet ranked on the men’s side at 14th and 22nd respectively.
“It will be very, very close. If all teams run to their capabilities, this could be one of the deepest, and most exciting regional meets in NJCAA Region XII history.” Said Albrecht.
The Lady Blazers cross country squad had been led this season by 12-time NJCAA All-American, sophomore Anais Da Silva. Da Silva won the Little State Division at the Indiana Intercollegiate Championships before continuing on to win her race at the Greater Louisville Classic. Da Silva goes in with the top time in Region XII on the year, and will look for both individual and team success this weekend.
“I really want to win as a team. We have all worked very hard, and we can win if we all run smart.” Said Da Silva.
The Trailblazers have also gotten huge performances from their strong sophomore class. Maisie Lay clocked the 3rd fastest time in school history to open the season at the Walt Crawford Open at Eastern Illinois. Her time of 18:57 currently ranks as the 3rd fastest time in Region XII this season. Fellow sophomore Sydney Davidson also has had a stand-out season, running the 9th fastest time in Trailblazer history at the University of Evansville Invite last weekend. Sophomores Wendy Catalan and Nacketa Scanlon have consistently been in the top-5 for VU, and turned in fantastic performances week-after-week.
The men’s cross-country team has had a great tandem attack up-front with returning, sophomore All-American Evan Franklin, and freshman stand-out Marcus Graham leading the charge for the Trailblazers.
Graham’s 18th place finish at the Indiana Intercollegiate Championships was one of the best in school history. He continued to build on that performance as he and Franklin finished 6th & 7th overall in their race at the Greater Louisville Classic. The duo then competed at the Evansville Invite where Evan Franklin was narrowly edged out for the victory by Matthew Biwott of Austin Peay University. Graham finished 5th on a very hot day.
However, the Trailblazers have a historic amount of depth on the men’s team as both sophomore Hunter Ingle, and Seth Vaquero have run well under the 27 minute mark, while freshmen Atlantis Green & Michael DeMeyer both have come very close.
Coach Albrecht said about the men’s race this weekend, “The race will be an absolute dog fight. We may have never had a better team from top-to-bottom at Vincennes than we do right now, but LCC is going to be a huge test for us. The guys are ready. They are excited. They want to line-up and take their best shot. If we run like we have been, we have a great chance to repeat as the Region XII team champions.”
Last season the men’s team won the Region XII team title, the first under then head coach Chris Gafner, and the first-time in 19 seasons that a team other than Lansing Community College had won. The women finished 2nd in a strong performance to the eventual National Champions, Lansing Community College.
Both teams will look to improve on those strong performances this weekend as they take to the course at Grand Woods Park in Lansing, Michigan. Men’s race is set to start at Noon EST, and the women’s race is set to follow at 1 EST. Go Trailblazers!