The Youngstown State men's and women's cross country teams are in action on Saturday at the Horizon League Cross Country Championships in Rochester, Mich. The men will run their 8K race at 11 a.m. while the women's 6K race begins at 11:45 a.m. at the Oakland University Golf Course.
The men are the defending champions while the women placed fourth in 2016.
This year's YSU men's team will have a large group of rookies running at the league meet for the first time. Competing at the league meet for the first time are freshmen Tyler Polman, Cole Lovett, Sean Peterson, Derek Basinger, Anthony Linert, C.J. Schumacher. The lone veteran in the lineup is junior Derek Morrison who was 85th last year and 70th as a freshman. He is the lone returning runner from last year's title-winning men's squad who will run on Saturday.
Polman has had an impressive first year which bodes well for the future. He has led YSU in all five races this year. He has finished in the top 13 in three of the five meets, highlighted by an eighth-place finish at the Canisius Alumni Open on Oct. 14. Lovett has been YSU's second-best finisher in each of the past three meets while Basinger has been second or third in the lineup all year.
The women are led by senior Michelle Klim who was a first-team All-Horizon League selection as a sophomore back in 2014. Klim has had an outstanding senior season placing in the top 10 in her most recent three races. Last time out she was third at the Canisius Alumni Open and she was second at the Disney World Cross Country Classic. At last year's Horizon League Championships she was 16th after placing seventh in 2014.
Having success behind Klim this year have been a solid duo of freshmen in Natalie Fleming and Ashleigh Rowley. Fleming has come on strong in the last two races placing 20th at the Disney World Classic and fifth at the Canisius Alumni Open just 17 seconds behind Klim. Rowley has been consistent throughout the season finishing in YSU's top three in four of the five meets.
The women won back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014 and have finished in the top three on four occasions. The men have placed in the top three each of the past four years.