The Calvin Knight Invite brought many personal best times and high ranks for the Gator cross-country teams.
Logan Steiner, ’16, finished Saturday’s 8K with a career best time of 25:01.7 and was named NCAC Runner of the Week for the third time in his college career. Randy Violette, ’17, finished second for Allegheny with a personal best of 25:29.6. Steiner and Violette were followed by personal bests by Carter Smith, ’18, at 25:43.2 and John Hughes, ’18, at 25:51.8.
“The team ran a mature race,” Violette said. “We are a young team and it was nice to see that we all went out at a good pace and made moves in the last half of the race.”
For the women, SJ Guillaume, ’17, dropped time and finished in 18:25.3 followed closely by Alyssa Brindle, ’16, at 18:33.8. Laura Cooper, ’17, dropped the most time and finished with a 20:00.7, almost a minute and a half faster than her previous times.
“Across the board everyone is faster this year than previous years at this time and we are getting stronger,” said Jordan Hill, assistant coach. “We haven’t raced at Calvin in about three years so it was new territory. We are also coming into a new region and meeting teams we don’t see often.”
The women placed fourth overall, but second in the region. The top two teams in the region go to Nationals, so the team wants to stay in the top two for the season. The men came in third, falling short to Calvin College and Ohio Northern University.
“Our goal is to make it to Nationals. More than that, we want to take each day and race step by step. It doesn’t just happen, and we are constantly reminded of that,” Guillaume said.
Head Coach Brent Wilkerson announced to the team last Wednesday, Sept. 9 that he is resigning from the position, his last day at Allegheny being today, Sept. 18.
“He is at a place with him and his wife, they are looking at where they want to go as a family,” Hill said. “They are both from the Cincinnati area and it has been hard on them being up this way. It was a hard decision for him to make. Leaving the team was the hardest part because he enjoys this team so much.”
Guillaume said the team will miss him but was lucky to have him as a coach.
“Jordan [Hill] has been a solid figure and gave the team a pep talk before the race on Saturday. Coach Wilkerson leaving has been difficult to handle this week, but we tried to put our passion into the race,” Guillaume said.
Guillaume added that it was a challenge not having Wilkerson there and he has had a huge impact on the team.
“We didn’t see it coming, but we understand the circumstances weren’t great and you can’t choose when opportunities come,” Violette said. “He has had a huge impact personally. My high school program was not as serious, and he taught me a lot about running and training, and inspired me to be more confident in my workouts and upcoming races.”
Violette said the team is shifting their focus and working to do more in this season.
“For the men I would love to see them retake the conference title and finish at least in the top three in the region, then make it to Nationals. For the women, being top two in the region and making this year the year they go to Nationals,” Hill said.
The men and women will race next in the Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, PA on Saturday, Oct. 3.