Titan Harriers prepares for fall Horizon League championship

The University of Detroit Mercy’s men’s and women’s cross country teams have come out of the blocks strong through the season’s first 30 days and are sprinting toward the Horizon League Championships later this month.

So far, the women’s team has completed three races, finishing runner-up to Oakland at their first meet; third place at their home invitational, and ending 9th overall at Notre Dame in their third event. The men’s team has made some improvements as well, especially considering their lack of senior leadership. Both Titan teams have welcomed a board a lot of new players.

“We have a lot of freshmen (4 freshmen and one transfer sophomore), so they’re all new to the program and our training regiments,” said senior Devon Sutton. “It’s a harder training plan than what they were used to doing in high school and so they have to adjust.”

But that hasn’t stopped them from posting some impressive results. At the team’s most recent meet – The National Catholic Championships at the University of Notre Dame — junior Ben Kendell came in second overall, recording a time of 25:06, just 10 seconds behind the winner of the 8k race. Freshman Adam Fraeyman placed 55th, freshman James McCann was placed 58th out of 286 runners.

On the men’s team, the leadership role is filled by the juniors.

“I think a lot of inexperience, especially with a lot of seniors gone from last year, has caused a lot of us juniors to step up, but I definitely see a lot of improvement from us for a young squad,” Kendell said.

 The new players on the women’s team are also finally getting in the swing of things.

The women’s team mostly race 5K’s (3.1 miles) and 6K’s (3.68 miles), depending on the meet. For men, they typically race 8K’s (5 miles), but for regionals, they have to run a 10K (6.2 miles). All races are completely team oriented or can be completely individual.

 If the team doesn't perform as well, it doesn't necessarily mean that the individual didn't have a good race.

“Individually, my goal is to make First Team All-Conference and finish Top 5 in the league. That would be the highlight of my cross country career,” Sutton said.

This year, the men and women’s cross country team looks forward to the Horizon League Conference Championship Oct. 29 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. To receive a lesser score than the past two years is their main goal.

“How they improve and how it all plays out will be interesting because we’re kind of changing the generations,” said Guy Murray, director of track & field/cross country. “Right now, we’re really moving into the more serious part of the season now, so it's time to see how it all comes together.”