After a first place team finish at their home meet two weekends ago, Ball State Cross Country headed to the Mid-American Conference Championships where they placed sixth out of 12 teams. Its placement greatly improved upon last year's performance of 11th place and is also the teams best finish at the MAC Championships since 2007.
“Today’s finish was due to a team effort, everyone contributed and it shows the work they have put in all season long,” assistant distance coach Rachel McFarlane said. “Our goal was to get out early in the race and get into position.”
The top finisher for the Cardinals was junior Cayla Eckenroth who placed 11th overall out of 101 runners. Eckenroth placement earned Second-Team All Conference recognition with a time of 22:19.1 in the 6K race.
“Cayla was racing to what she is capable of,” McFarlane said. “She stayed composed and handled it well.”
The next two finishers for the Cardinals were senior Hannah Cummings and freshman Vivian Van Eck. The two finished within three seconds of each other, Cummings with 22:52.0 and Van Eck with 22:55.3.
Despite falling down early in the race, McFarlane said Van Eck ebounded and handled herself well. Van Eck went on to earn a 31st place finish in her first cross country season for Ball State.
Rounding out the team, senior Maritiza Rodriguez improved from placing 62nd last year to finishing 39th overall this year with a time of 23:07.9. The remaining Cardinals were not far behind as freshman Juliana Stogsdill, senior Peyton Kneadler, and redshirt freshman Meghan Hendrick finished within 30 seconds of each other.
As the team gets ready for their regional meet in Madison, Wisconsin, McFarlane says they know what to expect after today’s finish..
“Today was not perfect, the conditions were tough. We will be prepared to face the same situation in Madison,” McFarlane said. “Regionals is also a great place to get redemption on teams that placed higher than us today.”
With the Cardinals’ placement in the top half of the conference, McFarlane said the team will be well prepared for the future.
“We had two freshman in our top five runners, we have depth and toughness,” McFarlne said. “The next few years will be promising as we are turning a page on what this program will be as we go on to become contenders for MAC Titles.”