Herd cross country opens season in Kentucky

Marshall cross country will travel to Highland Heights, Kentucky this weekend to compete in its first meet of the season—the Queen City Invitational. Marshall will bring nine of its men and nine of its women to compete in the 5k. The meet will begin Saturday morning, as the men start at 9 a.m. and the women start at 9:30 a.m.

“We’re really excited,” Marshall assistant coach Caleb Bowen said. “Some of the girls raced in early May, some of the guys haven’t since April, so we’re really excited to get after it.”

Last season, Marshall men’s cross country finished fifth out of 11 schools at the Conference USA meet. At that same meet, Marshall runners Nick Schmidt and Daniel Green were selected for the All-Conference USA team. Both runners are returning as seniors in the 2018 season.

The Herd women’s team finished 11th out of 13 schools at the conference tournament. This season, the Conference USA preseason poll predicted both the Herd’s men’s and women’s squads would finish amongst the top-eight schools in the conference. Senior Nick Schmidt, who received All-Conference honors last season, says this year’s team has more depth.

“I think we can go higher than what we were last year,” Schmidt said. “Just because we have a little bit more depth, a little bit bigger team and some more talent. That’s exciting for me.”

Marshall has six meets in five different states this season—Kentucky, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. Bowen, however, does not think the travel will affect Marshall runners.

“Some sports teams are gone every weekend,” Bowen said. “We only race six times and we don’t bring everybody to every meet. It’s not too hard on them.”

The Herd enters competition with several potential standouts. With another All-Conference selection this season, Daniel Green would become the second Marshall runner in program history to earn three All-Conference honors in his career. Bowen also thinks redshirt sophomore Coy Smith is another possible standout.

“(Smith) is actually from Cabell Midland High School, so not too far away.” Bowen said. “He’s put in a lot of good work this summer, so I really expect him to come out and roll with our top guys.”

The women’s team is returning three of its five top individual runners from last season’s C-USA Championship. Three of the Herd’s newest signees—freshman runners Myah McAlister, Alexandra Evans and Madelyn Garrison—are also expected to stand out this season. Bowen said this weekend’s meet is a good opportunity for the younger athletes to start the season.

“I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for the younger guys and girls,” Bowen said. “Usually the number one runners get all the praise and attention at meets, but to let them perhaps see their racing style and let them see what it’s like at the front without our normal team leaders, it can only give them confidence moving forward.”

Morgan Griffith can be contacted at [email protected].