BLOOMINGTON - The strength is in the pack.
Yes, this might be the most popular cliché in the sport of cross country, but sometimes there is just no denying it. At Friday’s Indiana Intercollegiates, that was evident for the IPFW women’s squad.
The Mastodons finished best-ever fourth place in the meet at Indiana University, in a competition that brings together nearly all of the state’s college cross country programs.
“We not only had our best finish ever (fourth), but also had our lowest point-total ever (135),” IPFW coach Mike Fruchey said. “The girls did it. They ran great races for this point in the season.”
Indiana University won the meet with 21 points, followed by Purdue (55) and IUPUI (108). The top finish for a Fort Wayne-area product was Carroll High School graduate Samantha Ginther (of Indiana), who was third overall in 17 minutes, 36 seconds over the 3.1-mile distance.
Indiana also won the men’s meet with 25 points, followed by Purdue (64), while IPFW was sixth with 173 points. Norwell graduate Alex Cushman, now running for the University of Indianapolis, was the area’s top finisher in sixth with a time of 25 minutes, 18 seconds for the 5-mile race distance.
Fruchey said that his women’s team lacks a true front-runner, but it was impressive watching them come down the finish straight one after another.
“Our (time elapsed) spread between (runners) 1 and 6 was 18 seconds,” Fruchey said. “That’s pretty good (for a large meet).”
The coach explained the key is the team’s experience.
“We have five seniors and today there were four in our top six,” Fruchey said. “The other two are freshmen. It’s a good balance.”
IPFW was led by senior Julie Jeszensky, who placed 29th in 19 minutes, 19 seconds. She was followed by Amaya Ayers (31st), Tiffany Rauch (37th), Rachel Zachar (38th), Brittany Beard (39th) and Jordan Tomecek (41st).
The finish excites Fruchey as to the possibilities later on.
“We can be a lot faster,” Fruchey said. “We are still doing mile intervals. Hopefully we can finish in the top four at conference and top 20 at NCAA Regionals.”
The Mastodons will have a bit of an advantage for the upcoming Summit League meet, when they host the event at The Plex on November 2.