WILMINGTON – The Wilmington College men’s cross country team turned in two top five performances and a runner-up finish in the season-opening Quaker Open Friday evening.
Simon Heys, a freshman from Wilmington High School, took second individually with a time of 16:05.9 on the five-kilometer course. He finished less than 10 seconds behind the winner, Braeden Wallace of Marietta College.
On the women’s side, the Fightin’ Quakers finshed the meet with 44 points while Wittenberg won the meet with 32 total points. Wilmington finished ahead of Earlham College, Capital University and Mount St. Joseph University. The University of Mount Union, due to Columus traffic, arrived after the women’s race began and ran a team time trial.
“I was really happy with our pack 1-5,” cross country coach Ron Combs said. “Earlham beat us soundly at their place last year. To come back and beat them here this year really shows our progress as a team.”
Freshman Milena Wahl was Wilmington’s top individual finisher, claiming third place in her first collegiate race with a time of 12:45.5. She finished six seconds behind runner-up Alexis Gray of Wittenberg and less than 15 seconds behind the individual winner, Ellie Haland of Earlham. Katie Hughes was next to cross for Wilmington, completing the two-mile course in 12:53.8. Another Quaker freshman, Sydney Yontz, finished two spots behind her teammate with a time of 12:55.7.
Savannah Rhodes (13:31.2) and Allison Helmke (13:34.2) were the next two Quakers to finish and round out the top five in 13th and 14th place respectively.
“I’m excited to see where this team can go,” said Combs. “We need to improve our six and seven spots going forward.”
Also in the men’s race, reigning OAC Freshman of the Year Evan Whitaker was next to cross the finish line for the Quakers, doing so in 16:16.1.
“Simon [Heys] beat Preston Myers [the third place finisher from Mount Union] and he nearly won the conference two years ago,” WC cross country coach Ron Combs said. “That’s some good company to be running with in his first collegiate race. Evan [Whitaker] was right there too along with a nice pack behind those guys.”
The pack Combs is referring to is Ryan Honkomp (16:48.0), Taton Bertsch (16:56.7) and Cameron Phelps (17:00.9) who took 12th, 13th and 14th place respectively to round out Wilmington’s top five. Josh Cyrus (17:16.5) and Gage Clemens (17:25.3) also slid into the top 25 individually.
“We have a top seven that are really strong and an eighth and ninth that are knocking on the door,” said Combs. “I like where we are at right now.”
The Fightin’ Quakers finished with 43 points as a team, 10 behind the winners from the University of Mount Union. The Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) schools were 45 points ahead of the rest of the field as Earlham College came in third with 89 points as a team.
Two Top Five Finishes Lead Men’s Cross Country to Runner-Up Finish at Quaker Open.