By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
After a season of growth, Capital University Men's Cross Country is ready to compete behind their senior leadership.
Four of the eight runners on the roster are seniors and with one junior, Capital is one of the most experienced teams in the Ohio Athletic Conference.
When speaking about the returners, Head Coach Hannah Weiss said that they have all seen improvement since the end of last season.
"I think this is the best shape they've ever been in, especially coming into the season," Weiss said. "I'm really excited about them. We're really focusing on not focusing on time. We're focusing on place. We're focusing on racing. If they can keep that mind frame throughout the course of the season they'll do really well."
Seniors Aaron Fox (Commercial Point, Ohio/Teays Valley) and Derek Knabe (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills) will both look to build on solid 2016 seasons. Both competed in all seven of last year's meets. Knabe finished second overall at last year's Columbus State/Capital Invite with a time of 27:31 while Fox finished ninth at the same race with a time of 29:23. Quinton Napier (Columbus, Ohio/Hamilton Township) participated in six meets and his career-best time of 31:24.8 came at the Great Lakes Regional.
Junior Andrew Rus (Mayfield, Ohio/Mayfield) also ran in all seven 2016 meets. His best finish was 16th at the Columbus State/Capital Invite with a 30:50.
Sophomore Nathan Hutchins (Toledo, Ohio/Maumee) joined track & field part-way through the spring season and is heading into his first year on the cross country team. Freshman James Kisner will join the squad but Weiss said that the main goal for him will be to adjust from running in school to college running.
"Really, that's my goal for any freshmen that I ever have," she said. "They are going to really use their freshman year as an adjustment period not just emotionally and mentally but also physically. My goal for them is to always be their best by their senior year."
Weiss has seen that philosophy come to fruition with the roster this year. In the team's preseason two-mile time trial, Weiss said that the team's times were around 15 or 20 seconds faster than they were last season.
"Defining success is a really tricky question," Weiss said, "especially in the realm of running. General improvement is success to me but really what I would love to see is the continuation of us developing. I want to see them be competitive within themselves every time they step up to the line."
The Purple and White runners will get their first opportunity to step up to the line on Sept. 1 at the Otterbein Dual in Westerville, Ohio.