Hard work, dedication, a will to win is the formula to success in any sport. In individual oriented sports, this formula for success is amplified because the athletes are not only facing an opponent, but they are also in competition with themselves. Their motivation for greatness is not only measured through the amount of points they earn for the team, but also in how will they do independently.
“This team is very savvy, the chemistry is very good and the work ethic very positive,” said head cross country coach Craig Penny about the women’s cross-country team. “The big challenge for the first year people is understanding the competitive level and adjusting to the very high level of competition each week.” “Each year there is a difference, this group brings a unique energy level, very driven,” added Penny.
At times, it is tough being a part of a region that has many teams ranked in the top 25 poll. Even more challenging, some of the good schools that breach the top 25 come from the North Coast Athletic Conference, Oberlin being the most recent, coming in at 11th. The Wittenberg Lady Tigers are finding this out the hard way. In the face of adversity, the Lady Tigers have not backed down. Rather, they have continued to work hard to be successful on the track. The ladies have stuck together throughout the season, and are ready to take the next step to make their season memorable.
With five meets left, senior Maggie Mcllvian, feels as though her team’s hard work will pay off. “I’m really looking forward to the regional meet at Calvin,” she said. “It’s what we’ve been working for all season and I’m excited to see how everyone performs.” “And we always have a ton of fun at overnight meets,” Mcllvain added.
On the other side of the fence, the men’s cross-country team has abided by some of the same principals as the women. The work hard mentality has caught the attention of Penny and his staff, and he feels as though they are poised and ready to show up at the conference meet.
“I like the growth and development of this group, the desire and drive to elevate the performance levels,” said Penny. “I am looking ahead to conference and regionals.” “This team has the tools and drive to make an impact at those events,” added Penny.
As a testament to the men’s growth this season, the men’s cross-country team finished eighth of 21 at the All-Ohio Invitational, at Cedarville University. Prior to finishing in the top ten, the Tigers finished 16th of 17 at the Otterbein Invitational. In their search for consistency, the Tigers have continued to improve week by week. This is thanks impart to some newly acquired freshmen talent.
“The coaches did some incredible recruiting this past year and our new freshmen are dominating,” said senior Jacob Kuntz.
The men have high hopes for the remainder of the season. After finishing eighth, and working hard at practice every day, the men’s cross-country team is focused on setting a precedent, on what Wittenberg cross-country is really about.
“The men’s team has a very strong core of competitive runners, the competition for a top 10 spot has been very keen,” said Penny. “In the past we didn’t have the depth we have now.” “As a result of recruiting a solid freshman class we are much more competitive in the conference, a conference that has two teams ranked in the top 25 in the country,” Penny remarked.