Despite hot temperatures, the Valley came away with three champions and 18 top-five finishes. Loyola and Southern Illinois are the only teams in the Valley to have both their men's and women's cross country teams regionally ranked.
MVC Male Cross Country Athlete of the Week
Sam Penzenstadler, Jr., Oshkosh, Wis. - Loyola
Loyola University Chicago junior Sam Penzenstadler picked up right where he left off last season at this weekend’s Badger Season Opener in Madison, Wis. The Oshkosh, Wis. native returned to his home state to take on a nationally ranked Wisconsin squad. Penzenstadler was the first of five Rambler men to finish in the top ten at the program’s opening meet, turning in a time of 18:22 for a fifth-place finish behind four Badgers. His performance in the 6k race at the September 6th meet led the Ramblers to a runner-up finish behind No. 7 Wisconsin.
MVC Female Cross Country Athlete of the Week
Sadie Darnell, Jr., Festus, Mo. - Southern Illinois
Junior Sadie Darnell started the 2013 season just as strong as she finished 2012 with a victory at the EIU Walt Crawford Open on Friday in Charleston, Ill. Darnell beat out 138 other competitors in the 5K race with a personal best time of 17:37.52 for her third career victory -- over two seconds better than second-place finisher and 2012 Walt Crawford victor, Evansville’s Kelby Jenkins. This is the second-straight year the SIU women’s team has won the meet.
Other notable performances:
Nathan Davis, Bradley
Davis helped lead the Bradley men’s cross country team to dual victories against Butler and Chicago State at the season-opening Bradley Intercollegiate. He paced the Braves and was the top NCAA Division I finisher with a four-mile time of 19:52.
Rob McCann, Drake
Recorded his second straight top-three finish with a third-place showing as the first Bulldog to cross the line at the Oz Memorial in Arden Hills, Minn. McCann battled high temperatures and a tough 6K course to finish with a time of 19:25.8, just eight seconds off the winning pace.
Josh Genet, Evansville
In his second race of the season, Evansville junior Josh Genet recorded his second top-12 effort. In the 8K Walt Crawford Open, Genet notched a time of 26:05.43 to lead the Aces in Friday’s event. Battling excessive heat in the late afternoon event, Genet posted the top ten effort in a race that featured 123 participants.
Chris Burnett, Wichita State
Burnett shattered his JK Gold Classic personal record of 19:06.77 from last year’s race by almost 30 seconds. Burnett won this year’s 4K race in a time of 18:37.50, which was the fastest by 25 seconds.
Caitlin Busch& Kristen Busch, Bradley
The sophomore twin sisters led the Bradley women’s cross country team to dual victories against Butler and Chicago State at the season-opening Bradley Intercollegiate. The pair crossed the line together in second place at 16:45 to lead the Braves with the time ranking as the best 3-mile time in school history.
Taylor Scholl, Drake
Was Drake’s top finisher for the second week in a row with a 20th-place finish at the Oz Memorial in a field that featured the top team in the region in Minnesota. Scholl crossed the 6K line in 23:53.3 to lead a pack of five Bulldogs that all finished within a minute of each other to help Drake to a third-place finish.
Kelby Jenkins, Evansville
After posting a victory in the UE Mid-America Opener last weekend, Evansville runner Kelby Jenkins posted another strong finish at the Walt Crawford Open. The senior stayed in the top pack all race long before taking second place with a time of 17:39.95. She finished just two seconds off of the winner. Her time was the No. 4 5K time in school history and was the second-best time in her four years at UE.
Alyvia Clark, Loyola
Alyvia Clark led the Ramblers at the Badger Season Opener turning in a time of 14:21 for a third-place finish, the program’s highest of the day. She paced the Ramblers across the rolling hills of the course in their first meet of the season, breaking away from the slate of tough competition near the end of the 4k race to finish behind two cross-town foes from Northwestern.