Men’s and women’s cross country has potential to be deepest in Snelling’s time as head coach

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After what is a unique off-season comparable to the other fall sports, the men’s and women’s cross country enter this season with maturity and experience.

At first glance, the rosters may not look very mature with just one senior between the two teams. What can be seen on the roster, though, are nine redshirted athletes. That redshirt has given all nine of those athletes an extra year of training under head coach Lou Snelling who is entering his fourth year as coach.

“This is our most experienced and most mature group that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Snelling said.

On the women’s side, redshirt juniors Andrea Alt, Jasmine Redman and Maria Meridith were redshirted as freshman and were just waiting for the year they could combine their experience with a large group of young athletes. They bring in three freshmen this season that Snelling refers to as the best recruiting class he’s had here.

“This team has probably the most potential of any team we’ve had,” Redman said. “We were always building up until we had a lot of us, and it’s to the point where we are ready to go. I think this is going to be our year.”

That potential from the women’s team trickles down to the men’s team as well. They are led by redshirt senior Greg Black but they also bring in three talented freshmen to pair with five redshirt freshmen.

The men’s team looks at this as a strength more than a concern, because it gives them the largest roster they have had since Snelling’s first year in 2011.

“A lot of times people get kind of concerned when they see youth, but these guys coming in have talent,” Black said. “The big key is if they can stay healthy … It’s a longer season than high school.”

The potential of these incoming freshmen is no secret to anyone close to the team.

“On the women’s side, this is the best recruiting class we’ve had,” Snelling said. “We will have to see on the men’s side but it definitely could be [the best recruiting class] as well.”

The three freshmen on the women’s side – Rachel Walny, Cassandra Boyle and Elena Lancioni – all were once all-state cross country runners. That talent mixed with the talent and leadership of Alt and Redman is the reason Redman thinks they can leave the Mid-American Championships with a third or fourth place finish this year.

“I think most of them are going to make an impact right away,” she said. “My freshman year we were redshirted, but I see a lot of them being on the course this year. I see a lot of potential in them even from the first few practices.”

Snelling knows the potential in the women’s team and although they have not had an All-MAC performer yet, he believes this could be the year.

“We should have our first All-MAC runner this year and it could be any number of girls,” he said.

For the men who finished last in this past year’s MAC Championship, they are focusing on increasing experience and staying healthy.

“I think if we stay healthy, we are going to have a good showing come the MAC meet,” Black said. “If they [freshmen] can have that long term approach and focus on Nov. 1 I think we will do really well.”

Whether it is the men’s or women’s team, they have a combination of veteran talent and young talent. The first and only chance fans will have to watch the team in Bowling Green will be at the Mel Brodt Invitational on Sept. 12, which was the host of last year’s MAC Championship.

“This year is going to be about getting most of our team on the starting line,” Snelling said.