It may be five months past due but the Shippensburg University men’s and women’s cross-country teams are officially taking the course Feb. 27 to start their 2020 season.
Led by 23-year head coach Steve Spence, the Raider cross country squads will be in for a chillier and shorter season than normal. With the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the cross-country team’s season saw its fall season taken away. On Nov. 18, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) announced a championship season for both men’s and women’s cross country would be reinstated, meaning at least six institutions opted in for holding a championship season.
The Raiders will begin their pandemic-ridden campaign at the Lock Haven Invite. SU then returns to its home course for the Shippensburg Invitational to wrap up a brief regular season on March 6. The PSAC Championships are slated for March 20.
The men’s team amassed an exceptional 2019 campaign, listing a first-place finish at the Bloomsburg Invite and a second-place finish on the home course in the Piper Alumni Open (Cross Country Challenge). They also tallied a third-place curtain at the PSAC Championships, accompanied by a seventh place marking at the NCAA Atlantic Regionals.
Paving the way for the men’s team is redshirt-junior Nate Kaplon. Kaplon, one of the veterans on a young Raiders’ squad, earned 2018 PSAC Men’s Freshman of the Year honors and is a two-time All-PSAC honoree with being named to the 2018 First Team and the 2019 Second Team.
Sophomore Chayce Macknair will be another highlight for the men’s team. Coming off quite the debut season, Macknair notched 2019 All-PSAC First Team honors with an 11th-place finish at the PSAC Championships.
Behind him, junior Cade Rush will also slide into the leadership role this season after posting a noteworthy 2018 campaign, earning 2018 All-PSAC Second Team honors. He only competed in one race in the 2019 season.
Other tenured notables for SU are juniors Andrew Feldman and Joshua Jackson. From the sophomore class, Drew Dailey will look to build off a solid freshman season with Nathan Harding, Cole Harris and AJ Plowman rounding out that group. The Raiders will also feature six freshmen.
The women’s team provided similar performances at the Bloomsburg Invite (fifth place) and the Piper Alumni Open (second place). The PSAC Championships and NCAA Atlantic Regions also resulted in repeated success with an eighth-place tally and a 10th place completion.
Ava Franklin will head the senior class with Jenna Robbins opting out this year for other career opportunities.
Redshirt-junior Bella Marchini will remain the Raider standout after receiving 2018 All-Atlantic Region First Team honors and a 2018 All-PSAC First Team distinction. She redshirted in 2019.
Joining her, sophomore Isabelle Gulgert, a 2019 All-Atlantic Region First Team and 2019 All-PSAC First Team honoree and junior Kyra Gerber, who was recognized with 2019 All-PSAC Second Team honors.
Junior newcomer Sydney Sirois, who did not compete in 2019, should also provide the Raiders with a boost. The Greene, Maine, native was the top runner for the University of Southern Maine in her two previous collegiate seasons.
Jade Fry, Sydney Morgan and Olivia Sommers (redshirt-junior) compile the remainder of the junior class. Amanda LaVana, Mackenzie Kurtz, Phylicia Hockman and Courtney Gomber are the returning sophomores. Five freshmen close out the rest of the roster.