Cross Country Teams Set Sights on Horizon League Championships This Weekend

Alan Burns
Alan Burns

The Youngstown State men's cross country team goes its second title in the last three years and the women's team its first championship since 2014 as both squads run at the 2018 Horizon League Cross Country Championships, Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Wayne Dannehl Cross Country Course at UW-Parkside in Kenosha, Wis. 

The men's team has been paced all season by senior Ryan Sullivan and Alan Burns. Sullivan and Burns posted the second and fourth best times, respectively, in program history in the 8K run this season. Sullivan's time of 24:34 at the Wisconsin Pre-National Meet ranks second all-time and Burns posted a time of 24:46 at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational.

Sophomore Tyler Polman also moved into the top 12 all-time with a time of 25:22 in the 8K at the ND invitational.

Sullivan, Burns and seniors Dylan Dombi, Derek Morrison and James Nedrich were all members of the 2016 Horizon League Championship team. Sullivan placed third at the 2016 championship with a time of 25:14 and was earned All-Horizon League First-Team while Burns earned second-team all-league honors with an 11th place finish in 26:19.

Sophomores Derek Basinger, Cole Lovett, Sean Peterson and C.J. Schumacher all competed at the 2017 Horizon League Championships so the Penguins have plenty of experience and depth in the race.

On the women's side, sophomore Natalie Fleming has been a standout for the Penguins. Fleming's personal-best time of 18:31 at the 2018 Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational ranks 15th on the YSU all-time 5K chart.

Freshmen Maggie Sebest and Mackenzie Scott have also been impressive for YSU during their rookie campaigns. Sebest is coming off times of 18:44.21 at Notre Dame on Sept. 28 and 18:44.81 at the Disney World Classic, which the Penguins won, on Oct. 6, and was named the Horizon League Female Runner of the Week on Oct. 9. Senior Jennifer Muhlenkamp ran a season-best 18:57.23 at Notre Dame and an 18:57.54 at Disney. 

Last season, Ashleigh Rowley ran a time of 23:27.6 to finish 21st. Other top finishers for the Penguins were Fleming who was 35th (23:45.9) and Muhlenkamp who finished 42nd (24:09.3)

The men title in 2016 was the program's first Horizon League Championship while the women's team won back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014.