WILMINGTON — Led by sophomore Simon Heys, the Wilmington College men’s cross country team won the eighth annual #JennaStrong Fall Classic Friday evening on the WC campus.
The Fightin’ Quakers went 1-7-11-37-45 to win the meet with 101 total points. Ashland University, an NCAA Division II institution, came in second with 116 points.
Individually, Heys won his second consecutive race (having won the Pre-National Meet in Louisville, Kentucky, on Oct. 2) and beat the field by more than 50 seconds with a time of 24:44.9.
On the women’s side, Wilmington was 17th as a team and the eighth NCAA Division III school among the field of 34 total teams. The College of Wooster edged out Centre College 111-112 to win the event.
Individually, Milena Wahl led the Quakers with a 10th-place time of 19:27.5 on the five-kilometer course. Bella Stevens (21:29.7), Savannah Rhodes (21:47.5), Kolby Gluchowski (22:26.1) and AJ Houseman (23:05.0) rounded out Wilmington’s top five. Lexi Jackson of Indiana University-Kokomo won the classic, crossing the finish line in 18:21.0.
“This was our best performance of the year by far, but I still think there’s a little more in the tank for this group,” WC cross country coach Ron Combs said. “Milena Wahl looked great and ran a great race.”
Named after the late Jenna Parlette, the #JennaStrong Fall Classic always brings with it great support from the community, but per Combs, this year was even better.
“All of the support we got from our other athletic teams running on Elm Street was incredible,” said Combs. “When they led that cheer as we were driving through, it sent a chill down my spine. That was one of the coolest moments in my 25 years here at Wilmington College.”
Back to the WC men, the next two Wilmington individuals behind Heys were George Rickett and Noah Tobin. Both ran life-time bests on the eight-kilometer course as Rickett placed seventh with a time of 26:13.1 and Tobin took 11th, crossing the finish line in 26:16.9. Cohen Frost (37th in 27:06.1) and Eric Reynolds (45th in 27:20.7) rounded out the Quakers’ top five.
“It was really special to win the meet today for the first time in over 20 years,” Combs said. “As I drove the gator up leading Simon, it was really a neat feeling to see our other guys right up near the front. Today was the best pack of the year by far, and it felt like we were capable of putting it together. We did that today.”
Wilmington has a week off before it runs again at home on Oct. 30, this time in the Ohio Athletic Conference Championships.