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The Correspondent

The Correspondent

The Student News Site of Indiana University Kokomo

The Correspondent

Cross Country Kicks off Their Season

Lady Cougs after the gun went off.

The Indiana University Kokomo Cross Country opened their season at the Indiana Wesleyan Twilight Invitational on September 8, 2023. The Cougars ended up with their best finish ever at the Twilight with the men placing eighth and the women placing seventh. The men finished with a total team time of 2:13:42.9 and had four men run under 27 minutes. The competition was stiff this year at the IWU Twilight. Among the field of athletes, six teams were ranked in the NAIA Preseason Polls.  

Individually the team had some of their lifetime bests. Luis Saldana, two-time NAIA Cross Country National Qualifier led the way running a time of 26:30.70 where he finished 51st. Bryce Stateler had quite the meet finishing 54th with a time of 26:32.30, this was over a minute personal best for Stateler from last season. The best news for the Cougars this week is that their incoming freshman are stepping up the game. Steven Case is the fastest freshman in school history, crossing the finish line just after Stateler with a time of 26:32.40, placing 55th. Accompanied by Jonas Brooks and Drew Lovelace the freshman completed the Cougar top five runners.  

As the season continues, the men’s team will only get faster. A few new teams are being added to the Cougars Cross Country conference, among them Shawnee State which has had multiple team qualifications for the Cross Country Nationals under their belt. The Cougars will have to edge out Shawnee State and Indiana University East at the Conference meet on November 4th,  to qualify as a team for Cross Country Nationals. If they cannot place as one of the top two teams, the top six individuals will also move on to compete in Vancouver, Washington on November 17, 2023.  

This year, the entire NAIA Cross Country program is changing drastically for women, instead of a 5000-meter run they are now competing in a 6000-meter race at nationals. Although it only seems like a small distance at 1000 meters, this adds anywhere from four to five minutes to their running time.

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On the women’s side, University of Indianapolis, Hannah Wells, made waves at the NAIA level on Friday. Wells finished eighth with a time of 22:42.8, placing just behind some of the top girls in the nation. Taylor University women’s cross country won nationals last year and Wells was right on the tails of their top girls. The field of competition was no easier for the women, with five of the top thirty teams in the nation to compete against Friday. 

Sophomore, Leslie Sprankles, crossed the finish line 31st with a time of 24:22.40. Jaliegha Howard, an incoming freshman ran a time of 25:11.70 in her first-ever collegiate meet. Rounding out the women’s top five was Isabelle Altic with a time of 25:21.20 and Ella Kantz with a time of 25:28.40. The women’s team is ranked second in the preseason polls and has a chance of qualifying as a team of NAIA Cross Country Nationals. 


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Olivia Newcom is the current Photographer for The Correspondent.
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