The LCC men's and women's cross country teams received their first taste of competitive action at a wet and humid Eastern Michigan University Celebration 5K in Ypsilanti on Sept. 5.
This event was not a scored competition, so no places were awarded. If the races were properly scored, however, the LCC men would have finished seventh in the 15-team event and the women would have taken fourth.
LCC Head Coach Jim Robinson said he was very pleased with how both of his teams performed against some of the top cross country programs in the Midwest, and the nation.
"I thought we did very well," said the 2014 Region XII Men's and Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year. "I was really pleased because we have a very young guys' team, so we have freshmen that we are counting on right out of the gate."
LCC Sophomore Greg Ingle was the first Star to cross the line, 59th out of 186 runners, with a time of 16:26. Freshman Dylan Rocha was 63rd, finishing in 16:28. No LCC runner finished lower than 152nd.
Even though the men ran a course shorter than the normal 8K, LCC sophomore Cass Millenbach was cautiously optimistic about the season ahead.
"I think we were all a little more excited than we were nervous," he said. "We were just trying to find out where we were, how we are doing, and it's looking pretty promising so far."
The women's team played the role of David vs. Goliath. The only schools that outperformed the Lady Stars were Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and 12th-ranked University of Michigan.
"On the women's side we knew we had a good team and they showed more evidence of that," Robinson said. "They (Division I schools) have their runners for five years, so to come in with freshmen and sophomores and do that well is really outstanding."
LCC freshman Taylor Thrush was the surprise of the day, finishing first for LCC and 34th overall out of 116 runners with a time of 19:05. She was followed by LCC sophomore Lydia Bumann in 41st in 19:35.
"I wasn't expecting it to go as well as it did," Thrush said. "Everyone finished super well, which is really exciting."
Thrush said the strategy for the day was for the runners to begin at a slower pace to acclimate themselves back to racing, eventually building to a competitive pace that was within their capabilities.
Before the season began, Robinson said he purposely built the 2015 schedule to be harder than most community colleges in the state. Thrush said the message has been well received by the runners.
"We are all on the same page," she said. "Everyone wants the same thing. We are working toward the same goal."
Coach Robinson said there is still plenty of work to be done.
"It's a developmental sport," he said. "It's not what you do in one day; it's what you do consistently day after day. That's one of the life skills you learn."
Both harrier squads are preparing to compete in the annual Spartan Invitational hosted by Michigan State University on Friday, Sept. 18 at Forest Akers East Golf Course.
Photo provided by Kevin Fowler/LCC Photographer