With five national team championships, several runner ups and numerous all Americans throughout the programs history, Emporia State’s cross country team is no stranger to competition.
“I think this year we definitely had a successful season,” said Leah Nelson, senior cross country runner.
The cross country competed in six races so far this year, according to ESU athletics. In all races, the men and women placed in the top 30 each time.
“This team just needed a little leadership and I think having Stanbrough definitely gave us that leadership that we needed.” Nelson said.
Mark Stanbrough, head cross country coach, returned to the program after stepping down in 1992. During his first time as the head of the program, he coached 28 athletes to NAIA All American honors, according to esuhornets.com.
“Coach Stanbrough is an excellent coach,” said Sam Hengeli, junior cross country runner. “He laid down a little foundation for what this program could become.”
The athletes feel that they not only joined a team, but a family, they said.
“My favorite part about cross country is the family atmosphere.” said Matthew Maki, freshman runner. “We all really care for each other.”
Cross country also offers close friendships that help runners through the season.
“Throughout the season you become strongly bonded and I really enjoy that,” said Sam Hengeli, junior runner.
ESU’s cross country competed in the MIAA Cross Country Championship Nov. 3. The women’s team placed 12th and the men’s team placed 9th, but the season is not over yet.
“We’re gonna come back this next upcoming week for regionals and I think that we’re gonna do great,” Nelson said.
Cross country will compete next in the NCAA central regional Nov. 17 in Joplin, Missouri.