Cross Country Highest Preseason Ranking in Program History

by Sam Hying, Staff Reporter

Simpson’s men and women’s cross-country teams have received their highest preseason regional rankings in program history, but how satisfied are they with the rankings?


The women’s team was voted seventh after finishing ninth in their 2021 season. With this ranking, Simpson is one of four programs in the A-R-C with Wartburg (first), Loras (fourth) and Central (fifth).


The women’s team lost one of their lead runners, Cat Lucht, because of graduation but returned three runners that finished in the top five in team standings last year in both A-R-C Championships and NCAA Division III Cross Country Midwest Region Championships.


As for the men’s team, they were voted sixth after finishing seventh for their 2021 season. Along with the regional ranking, they are also predicted to get third in the American Rivers Conference. Other regionally ranked programs in the A-R-C are Wartburg (first), Central (seventh), and Luther (eighth).


“We are thrilled to be back together for what should be an exciting fall of running,” head coach, Heath Moenck, said. “Both squads return terrific student-athletes, and we are equally excited for our newcomers as well.”


Now, what has the cross-country team changed from last year to this year to earn this preseason ranking? When Marc Medici, a junior on the cross-country team, was asked this question, his answer was simply “consistency.” 


“As a team this year I feel like we are being a lot more consistent with our training,” Medici said. 


As for the women’s side, Ashley Rockhold said that, “it’s hard to keep each other accountable when we are on our own over summer, but we’ve been disciplining ourselves and staying consistent with our workouts.”


For both teams to accomplish their preseason rankings, they have set goals that will hopefully rank them higher than predicted. To accomplish a higher ranking, they are going to run more as a group and close the gap between runners.


With the preseason ranking, the men’s team does feel a sense of pressure as they lost three runners off their regional team last year.


“However, we aren’t too worried about it because the way coach Heath approaches training is that we always run best at the end of the year,” said Medici.


On Sept. 2, the men’s and women’s cross country teams finished first in the Bill Buxton Cross Country Invitational. Eight days later the teams competed in the 60th Les Duke XC 6000 Invite. The women’s team came in fifth-place, led by Emma Angus (9), Teghan Booth (12) and Ashley Rockhold (19). The men’s team had a third-place finish and was led by Drew Klein (2), Cade Mash (18) and Cole Leggett (27).


Overall, the teams are happy with these results, but both teams believe they can shoot higher and earn a higher ranking by the end of the season.


“We’re excited about the ranking. We finished ninth in the region last year and earned a preseason ranking of seventh, which is well deserved, but we have some work to do to complete this ranking and maybe shoot even higher,” said Rockhold.


“We’re excited about it for now. We think it’s a good starting position,” said Medici. “However, we know how strong we are as a team. We know how much work we put in over the summer and we think we can definitely surpass this as the season goes on.”