Both the men’s and women’s SU cross- country teams are eager to lace their shoes up and chase success this upcoming season.
The men’s team is set up to have a great year as it returns six runners who boast All-PSAC hardware from their 2020 season in which they finished as the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) runner-ups.
Junior Chayce Macknair, one of the returners for the Raiders, says he and the team are hungry for success. “A big goal in 2021 is to win the conference title,” Macknair said. “Men have had a drought for a couple of years and we’re looking to bring the PSAC title back to Ship.”
The most recent championship for the men came in 2017 and the only remaining member from that season is lone senior Nate Kaplon.
The women’s cross-country team did not see the same success that the men’s team saw last season. The women are coming off a seventh-place finish in 2020 and an eighth-place finish in 2019.
However, led by three seniors Jade Fry, Kyra Gerber and Sydney Morgan, the Raiders are determined to climb the standings this season.
“We definitely want to do better than last season,” Fry said. “Last year we didn’t really have a season, regional or national championship. We want to take advantage of everything we have now and get the chance to show what we got.”
Along with the team’s three returning seniors, women’s cross country also features graduate transfer Lyndsey Payne, who transferred from Mansfield. Payne, Gerber and junior Isabelle Gulgert have all received All-PSAC First Team honors in their careers.
Macknair realizes that for both men’s and women’s teams the season will be long and grueling, unlike the six-week season that teams had to endure last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s not going to be the team that has the most talent,” Macknair says. “It’s going to be the team that works the smartest, the team that gets all 15 guys to the end of the season in one piece that’s going to win.”
Gerber believes the same applies for her women’s team. “I definitely think listening to your body and taking the necessary recovery that you need is important,” Gerber said. “We have a long season, and we want everyone healthy on the line come postseason.”
Both Shippensburg cross-country teams are in the midst of their first full preseason in two years. Just practicing together again has been good for both teams.
“It was good for our team culture and team chemistry just being able to see each other in person, six or seven days a week again,” said Macknair.
“We’ve got a mix of people from every class and I feel like it’s coming together nicely,” said Morgan. “Getting to have a preseason has been very helpful in getting to know everyone.”
The Raiders will open their season Friday, Sept. 2, at the Piper Alumni Open/XC Challenge in Shippensburg.