This Week's Outlook: The College of Wooster men's and women's cross country teams head to Liberty Park in Powell, Ohio for the 2018 North Coast Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships. The meet, hosted by Ohio Wesleyan University, kicks off at 11 a.m. with the women's 6,000-meter race, and the men's 8,000-meter race is set to start at 11:45 a.m.
MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY NOTEBOOK
Flashback to 2017: Led by a trio of all-conference performers, Wooster's men's cross country team placed fourth at the 2017 NCAC Championships, and that marked the Scots' highest finish since the Black and Gold were third in 2013. The then-junior trio of Jackson Feinknopf (Columbus, Ohio/Bexley), Brian Lief (Shaker Hts., Ohio/Shaker Heights), and David Westcott (Lake Forest, Ill./Millbrook (N.Y.)) all earned all-conference certificates. Wooster last had three harriers earn all-conference honors in 2013.
Scots Head Into Conference Championships Regionally Ranked: Wooster's men's team checked in at No. 10 in the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association NCAA Div. III Great Lakes Regional Rankings on Oct. 2, and have since moved up to ninth. The Scots are one of two NCAC programs currently ranked within the Great Lakes Region.
Wooster Forecasted as League Runner-Up by Head Coaches: Wooster received 68 points and was forecasted second at this Saturday's championship by the conference's nine head coaches. DePauw University was picked to finish first with 81 points, and received all nine first-place votes. Wooster's in search of its first conference crown since 1989, and the Scots' last runner-up finish came in 2001.
All-Conference Trio Looking to Write Program History: Since joining the NCAC, Wooster's never had the same three men's harriers earn all-conference honors in back-to-back seasons. In fact, having three – or more – all-conference performers in back-to-back years has only happened twice in program history. Wooster had three all-conference performers in 1996 (Josh Baird, Andrew Dawson, Willie Drexler) and then four in 1997 (Baird, Robert Buckley, Dawson, Allyn Peterson). Then, Wooster had four all-conference harriers in 2000 (Brendan Callahan, Nick Chiorian, Marty Coppola, Evan McDaniel) and followed that up with three in 2001 (Callahan, McDaniel, Jared Rhode). Blake Pecoraro (2014-15) was the last Scot to earn all-conference honors in back-to-back seasons, while Callahan and McDaniel (2000-01) were the last duo to earn all-conference certificates in back-to-back seasons.
Westcott Enjoying Banner Season: Westcott's senior year has been a memorable one thus far. The Lake Forest, Ill. native was the fourth NCAA Div. III competitor to cross at the All-Ohio Championships with a time of 24:55.3, and in doing so, the senior picked up his first All-Ohio certificate. A week earlier, Westcott earned the blue ribbon on the 5,000-meter course at 16:50.6 during Wooster's dual meet win over Denison University.
WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY NOTEBOOK:
Flashback to 2017: Then-first-year Zoe Covey (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove North) rose to the occasion at her first league meet with a career-best 6K time of 23:51.3, nearly 40 seconds better than the 24:29.6 she clocked at the All-Ohio Championships, the Scots' other championship-length meet up to that point. The rookie harrier placed 36th, and as a team the Scots finished in seventh-place.
Coaches Project Scots to Finish Fourth: The league's eight head coaches recently completed a pre-championship poll, and Wooster and DePauw both tied for fourth-place with 32 points. Oberlin College appeared at the top of five of the eight ballots and totaled 61 points, while Allegheny College collected the three other first-place votes and was just behind at 58 points. A fourth-place – or better – finish would mark the best showing by the Scots since 2004.
Rookie Success: Wooster's top finisher at four of its five meets this fall have been first-years. Isabelle Hoover (Millersport, Ohio/Fairfield Union) placed fifth at the Otterbein University Invitational on Sept. 15 with a time of 24:14.7. Hoover then earned the blue ribbon during a dual-meet win over Denison University (Sept. 20) with a 5,000-meters time of 20:42.5, and she was subsequently selected as the NCAC Athlete-of-the-Week on Sept. 24. Hoover led Wooster at the All-Ohio Championships, and finished a spot shy of All-Ohio honors with a time of 23:40.1. Classmate Kayla Bertholf (Astabula, Ohio/Edgewood) turned in Wooster's top finish at the Jenna Strong Invitational with a time of 19:40, while Amirah Yessoufou (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) has finished among the team's top five in three meets this fall.
Welcome Back: The season-opening Wooster Invitational marked the return of seniors Emani Kelley (Santa Paula, Calif./Ventura) and Collier Summay (Cincinnati, Ohio/Walnut Hills) to the cross country course. Both seniors missed the 2017 season due to studying abroad. Kelley was Wooster's top finisher in the lid-lifter with a ninth-place time of 15:50.4 on the 4,000-meter course, while Summay was one of four Scots who placed in the top-20. Summay crossed at 16:23.