The Taylor cross country teams hosted their first and only invitational for the season last Friday with the men coming in 2nd and women coming in 3rd.
The NAIA No.12 ranked men’s team finished with a score of 54. They were led by senior Daniel Gerber, who came in 2nd overall with a time of 26:07.4 for the 8k course. The men’s team finished behind NCAA Division II Indianapolis.
The key to the Trojans’ success is the depth of the team. With injuries impacting both the men’s and women’s teams, the rest of the team fell right into step. Along with Gerber’s performance, sophomore Derek Van Prooyen placed 10th, senior Connor Legge placed 14th and sophomore Alex Helmuth finished 17th. Junior Josh Roth, senior Hunter Smith and junior Luke Rovenstine wrapped up Taylor’s top-seven.
According to head coach Quinn White, Taylor’s second pack of runners has become their strength, especially when looking towards the end goal of the season.
“For us everything is going towards our league meet and nationals,” White said. “Training to compete and to learn, to try things and getting in shape.”
This is White’s first year at the helm of the men’s team, however he led the women’s team to six crossroads league championships and six top twenty finishes in the NAIA National Championships.
The women’s team had their top two runners in the top five with junior Sarah Harden (2nd place) and junior Livy Schroder (4th). Sophomore Corinne O’Leary (16th), freshman Madeline Purdom (22nd), sophomore Giovanna Domene (23rd), senior Taylor Bluemel (30th) and freshman Hannah Loeffler (37th) rounded out the top-seven for Taylor.
Harden came in with a time of 18:11.8 for the 5k course and was named Crossroads runner of the week. Taylor was the only team to place two runners in the top five. However, Madonna University had seven of their five scorers in the top 15 leading them to first place with a score of 39. Indianapolis came in second with a score of 55. The Trojans came in with a score of 67, earning them third.
The women’s team, ranked No. 3 in the NAIA, is under a large shadow from the expectations that come along with their success in past seasons. However, White is confident his team will rise to the high expectations.
“The women have two really strong front runners, and freshmen who are learning,” White said. “It’s really about the end, we’re gonna be stronger by the end. We will be where we need to be.”
With 90 degree weather throughout the day the runners focused on being mindful and staying together as a team. Both the men’s and women’s teams focused on running together, not against each other.
Through their constant support of each other and bringing their teammates along, the Taylor runners proved why their culture of togetherness breeds success.
The women’s team (19-3) and the men’s team (22-2) will return to action on Saturday, Oct. 5 at the Louisville Cross Country Classic.